The Crash Reel

(USA, 2013, 108 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
FEATURING Kevin Pearce, Shaun White, Mason Aguirre
Classification: 14A


"Faster, higher, stronger" proclaims the Olympics motto. But in the case of extreme winter sports, we’re still discovering the limits of how fast and how high the human body can be pushed - and still land safely. In the run up to the Vancouver Olympics, the sport of snowboarding was dominated by the accomplishments of superstar Shaun White. But White had a rival, also an American, by the name of Kevin Pearce. In fact through the 2007-2008 season, it was Pearce who was blazing the trail with his breathtaking, gravity-defying stunts.

That all changed on 31 December, 2009, when Pearce failed to land one of his jumps and struck his head on the pipe It was a near fatal accident resulting in serious brain trauma, and Pearce spent the Vancouver Games in critical care.

The other side of gung-ho extreme sports docs like Dogtown and Z Boys, the latest from Lucy Walker (Wasteland; Blindsight), The Crash Reel flips from breathtaking stunt footage to show the painful, emotionally wrought process of picking up the pieces after terrible injury. Overnight, a celebrity athlete becomes a pale shadow of his former self. His parents and loved ones can only stand patiently by and watch as Kevin has to relearn everything from speech to walking. Even then, his hardest lessons are still to come, when he must accept the dire risk that any further concussion poses.

"By turns pulse-quickening and contemplative… Thorougly winning… A spectacular feat." Variety

"Lucy Walker has assembled one of the great sporting docs - partly because its scope extends beyond the slopes." Trevor Johnston, Time Out

"Captures a seesaw exhilaration between the thrill of pushing one’s limits and the pain of dreams cut short." Robert Abele, LA Times