The ubiquitous Dwayne Johnson gives a brief introduction to “stuntman,” the kind in which a celebrity host (in this case also one of the film’s producers) jovially warns us that the acts we are about to see were performed by trained professionals, and in under no circumstances should we “try any of this at home.” That would seem a no brainer. Then again, the most grateful viewers of this documentary will undoubtedly have boys and girls (as well as big ones) who can imagine no more intoxicating career than being the one who actually executed emotion ‘n’ spill which will appear in finished films or TV shows in being made by stars like the ancient rock.
If, in fact, crashing cars and jumping out of explosions for a living doesn’t really sound tempting, you’ll probably find Kurt MattilaSlick documentaries of lesser interest. His principal subject (indeed, it seems, his boss as principal to hire) is Eddie Braun, a veteran stunt driver, coordinator and all-around scene with screen screens stretch back to 1980. But Braun’s own focus here is on re-creating – successfully, this time – an infamous Evel Knievel Stunt from 1974. It’s an obsessive pursuit that takes a few years to achieve.
“Stuntman” himself has also been slow-aborning, finally arriving on the Disney Plus streaming platform nearly three years after its festival premiere, while the events he painted largely took place several years earlier. Properly crafted, the film’s appeal nonetheless depends heavily on whether you find Braun’s quest brave and inspiring or sort of a pointless childhood dream that didn’t require adult update.
Braun introduces himself to voice-over narration as “the face you’ve never seen,” though the stunts he’s invisible do on everything from the 1980s series “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “The Fallen Guy” to the latest “Transformers “and” Avengers “looms large looms on the landscape of modern entertainment. When “Stuntman” begins in 2013, it’s his early 50s, wondering how long he can continue this highly skilled, often dangerous job. (An older colleague once told him, “You never retired from this business; this business retired you.”)
But he can’t help jumping as a volunteer when he learns that the son of the NASA scientist behind Evel Knievel’s 1974 attempt to jump over the 1,700-foot Snake River Canyon wants to try it again. Scott Truax wants to prove that his father Robert’s late passenger rocket worked, wasn’t a parachute prematurely released to function properly. (The Daredevil was lucky to escape the crash alive, with only minor injuries.) Despite confessing to Braun’s fear of heights, he can’t deny an opportunity to make a stunt that failed childhood hero whose high-profile career attracted him at work stunt.
But making the thing prove a long process, complicating that Mattila’s film isn’t entirely shiny. Still stung by the original event’s circus atmosphere, damage to property and Knievel’s often-troubled local debt left behind, residents of neighboring Twin Falls, Idaho, don’t welcome a reception. (It’s clear how the objections are overcome.) Money ran out, forcing Braun to become an investor in the project. Media sponsors who could evade financial signs on the burden, then release. Some of the “stuntmen” feel like repurposing to feet maybe originally shot for a special projected TV, like when we visit a studio where off and the other musicians are recording a meh cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” as the theme song of these were billed to the company. as “Going into the century.”
Through it all, Braun is bland if rather innocuous company. He chases this pipe dream because it’s “something [I’m] very passionate about, “again that passion is not inconspicuous. A bit bizarre, he calls the waterfall” the kind of love letter I give to my family, “though before he does it he must offer them temporary goodbyes, just in case his wife leaves a widow, her four children minus a father. “Stuntman” often suggests an emotional intimacy that the viewer never really feels, particularly in domestic scenes and the woman whose slice-of-life has a time of being semi- scene for the benefit of the camera.
When stars finally lined up with rocket jumps and passes (in September 2016), it is accordingly a tense, interesting look. Even so, you’ll know how the film had to pad itself in order to normalize that climax for 75 minutes, its various digressions failing to give some intel keys or even many behind-the-scenes insight into Braun’s daily work direction as a Hollywood stuntman.
In the end, both the documentary and the jump itself feel like ambitious worthless projects that are admirably accomplished, yet feel a little hollow in the reason to be departmental. A dream realized is valuable, albeit not always given to anyone but the person who loves to dream. “Stuntmen” eventually get across that canyon. Still, a viewer might justify in asking if there would be more reward in simply hearing more stories about the late rascally showman Knievel, or lore from the even-more-veteran Braun stuntmen allowing short screen time as still-living his professional advisor.