Director: Kurt Mattila
Starring: Eddie Braun
Odds are you have no idea who Eddie Braun is, but you’ve probably seen his work. Eddie is a stuntman who has appeared in many films you probably have seen. Stuntman, available on Disney+ is his story. However, the title is a bit of a misnomer. While we do get some interesting insights into his work as a stuntman, the focus of the movie is his quest to complete a stunt that his idol Evel Knievel tried and failed – to jump a rocket over the Snake River Canyon. In my opinion the film should have been called Daredevil.
It’s nice to see an everyday guy who has made some of my favorite movie magic moments get his time in the spotlight. The behind the scenes look at movie car crashes was mind blowing. Given how much CGI is used, I was shocked at how much of the action is real. Also real? The impact it has on poor Eddie, even when things go as planned. Without explicitly saying it, Stuntman poses the question, why would a person put themselves in such risky situations? Eddie is a likeable guy who seems pretty grounded. He doesn’t come off like an adrenaline junkie. He has a loving family. He doesn’t seem to do it for the money or fame.
I kept asking myself what draws such a person into such a risky field of work, and then on an even riskier stunt that wasn’t even for a movie? Sure, Evel was his idol, but the whole mission seems more geared towards redemption for the engineer who designed the rocket (a subplot that is given some coverage). A son trying to redeem his father’s reputation makes sense, but why is Eddie doing this? The film seems to be grasping at answers to this question, but largely comes up empty. Perhaps this is something the rest of us simply can’t understand.
The film’s opening act is strong, introducing Eddie and showing us some of his work. When the movie pivots to the rocket venture, it slows down considerably and feels a bit padded. There is a bit too much “It’s my last stunt before I retire, I might die” melodrama that seems duplicative given the fact that it is quite obvious that there is a very good chance the stunt could end badly. It felt a bit like reality TV, where they stretch out everything to maximize the drama.
With that said, the payoff is largely worth it. The rocket stunt is gorgeously caught in highly detailed slow motion. Thanks to the use of drones multiple angles are provided. It is thrilling footage worthy of all of the buildup.
Stuntman is a worthy homage to the unknown stuntman who makes the stars look so fine (kudos to you if you catch what I just did there). It’s a family friendly documentary that lacks violence and cursing. Everyone in the movie seems to like and respect each other and there’s a real sense of kindness and family woven throughout. I’d recommend this movie for the look at stunt work and the climactic rocket launch, which is worth a bit of bloat in the middle. Stuntman is a nice way to gain much deserved appreciation for those behind the scenes people who work so hard to make movie magic for us. While I wouldn’t sign up for Disney+ just to watch Stuntman, it’s well worth a look if you are a subscriber.
Stuntman will debut on Disney+ on July 23rd, 2021
Do you plan to watch it? Let us know in the comments!
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