‘The Crash Reel’ highlights dangerous world of extreme sports
While training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, champion US snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a devastating accident on the slopes, putting him temporarily in a coma and leaving him with a debilitating brain injury. When he finally recovered both speech and mobility, Kevin shocked his supportive, tight-knit family by announcing that he wanted to return to the sport he loves—despite doctors’ warnings that even the slightest blow to the head would be enough to kill him.
The Crash Reel is an engrossing exposé on the world of extreme sports and more specifically the terrible accident and recovery of Kevin Pearce, known to his fans simply as KP, who before his tragic accident was poised to upset Shaun White for the gold in the Vancouver Olympic Games. The film follows diligently the Pearce family as they try to recover from his head injury that almost cost Kevin his life. Through practice and competitive footage, director Lucy Walker does excellent job of examining the psyche of an athlete and paints a compelling picture of the athlete and the man that Pearce would become.
Seamlessly combining the stunning archival snowboarding footage with interviews from other of the sport’s top athletes, director Lucy Walker not only tells a moving personal story but broaches difficult questions about the culture of high-risk sports. The lack of health care programs combined with the constant urge to go bigger and faster come to head when 2 years after Pearce’s accident competitive freestyle skier Sarah Burke lost her life on the very pipe KP had his accident. Walker wastes no time connecting the 2 and exploring the effect that both incidents have on the community at large, though the biggest impact may have been on Kevin himself.
Brimming with engaging personalities along with an expertly crafted and edited slick presentation, The Crash Reel elevates Kevin Pearce’s accident into a rallying cry for better safety precautions and limitations on the extreme sports world. But more importantly it’s also a fascinating character study of a passionate young man having to find something else to drive his passion after the sport that fuelled him for years is ultimately lost.
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