Ray is a figure caught in the crosshairs of consumerism and activism, and McCraney and Soderbergh allow his allegiances to oscillate between those poles all the way to the very end. (And to fully appreciate the conclusion, you might want to familiarize yourself with the work of activist Dr. Harry Edwards, who cameos.) Holland -- probably best known for his work in Moonlight and Soderbergh's TV series The Knick -- is absolutely magnetic. Ray's a master at never showing his hand, and in turn, Holland is as well, deftly delivering the multitudes packed into McCraney's dialogue. (There's a lot of talking in High Flying Bird to the extent that one can envision it being staged as a play. In other words, you're going to want to pay attention.) He's surrounded by other formidable actors, including Atlanta's Beetz as Ray's erstwhile assistant, who is similarly ambitious and savvy. Sonja Sohn is a thrilling scene partner for Holland as the exasperated rep for the Players Association in need of a drink, while Kyle MacLachlan is oily as a team owner. Most of the narrative consists of lengthy, and at times, complicated conversations, but with performers and words this good, it's like watching LeBron go up against Steph.
There aren't any action scenes in High Flying Bird -- there's barely even any basketball in it -- but it's nonetheless thrilling, nimble, and funny, even as it does the hard work of challenging the idea that professional basketball is just entertainment. An iPhone might be a small device, but it's a powerful one, and this film's aims are nothing if not big.