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“There’s an ever changing line between the insane and the sublime in terms of man’s relationship with this machine,” says one commentator in On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter. We see that line get crossed with abandon in Dana Brown‘s (Step Into Liquid) long belated sequel to his father Bruce’s 1971 classic documentary about motorcycle racing. Most films concerning extreme sports add the caveat that kids shouldn’t try this at home. Not in this effort, which promotes motorbikes as the ultimate form of family togetherness; we even see one tyke riding a miniature version, albeit one equipped with training wheels.
While unlikely to appeal to the unconverted, the film should thrill motorcycle aficionados as well as armchair athletes for whom the closest thing to riding is wearing a Harley-Davidson jacket. Opening for a limited theatrical release, it should find its biggest audiences in home video formats.
Like his father before him, Brown narrates the proceedings, although he hasn’t quite mastered his old man’s amusingly jocular style. But not to worry; the elder figure is a hovering figure throughout, and serves as one of the film’s executive producers.
We’re told that motorcycle daredevils have been around since the machine’s invention in the mid-19th century—who knew?—and a suitable nod is delivered to its most famous example, Evel Knievel. We’re then introduced to his modern-day counterpart, Aussie racer Robbie Maddison, whose feats include jumping the length of a football field and off the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Skipping merrily–or haphazardly, depending on your perspective—among its various topics, the film profiles such figures as 21-year-old Grand Prix motorcycle racer Marc Marquez, one of only four riders to claim world championship titles in three disciplines; Carlin Dunne, a winner of the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb whose latest attempt was accomplished with an electric bike fueled by solar energy; Travis Pastrana, a star of the adrenaline-charged Nitro Circus “action sports collective”; and James Stewart, one of the few black riders on the supercross and motocross circuits.
Inspiration is provided in the form of Ashley Fiolek, a multiple award-winning rider who’s been deaf since birth; the partially paralyzed Doug Henry, who rides a specially adapted bike; and the “Riders for Health,” who use motorcycles to deliver health care and medicine to remote areas in Africa.
Crisscrossing the world to spotlight such events as flat track racing in Illinois, speedway racing in Alberta, freestyle motocross in Park City, and attempts to set new speed records at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, the film serves as both a virtual travelogue and a not so subtle advertisement for Red Bull, whose media arm is one of its presenters.
Although the film doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor—Mickey Rourke and Bo Derek, among the celebrities featured, aren’t exactly Steve McQueen—it does benefit immeasurably from the advances in cinematography made in the intervening decades. Gorgeously shot in crisp 4K, often with the sort of tiny cameras that provide arresting POV perspectives, it’s a visually stunning experience. Even the shots of riders crashing, and there’s enough of them here to fuel a dozen PSAs, achieve a haunting visual poetry.
Production: Red Bull Media House, Freeride Entertainment
Director/narrator: Dana Brown
Screenwriters: Scott Rousseau, Dana Brown
Producers: Jonnie Broi, Nicholas Schrunk, Ben Bryan
Executive producers: Bruce Brown, Derek Westerlund, Scott Bradfield, Charlie Rosene, Philipp Manderla, Todd Huffman, Don Paul Hoffman, Patrick Panzarella
Director of photography: Alex Fostvedt
Editor: Andrew Boucher
Rated PG, 95 min.
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