On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter
Opens Fri., Nov. 7 at Meridian and Lincoln Square. Rated PG. 90 minutes.
“You have to be crazy to do this,” according to—oh, let’s face it, this could have been said by anybody in this movie. On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter is crammed with people who ride motorcycles too fast: These vehicles travel across flat tracks, dirt roads, and sometimes the air, with alarming amounts of space between bike and ground. The documentary world is full of thrilling sports videos, but few have the authentic life-and-death stakes of high speed on two wheels.
The movie’s distinguished pedigree sets it apart, too. Its title reminds us of the hit 1971 doc On Any Sunday, a classic from The Endless Summer director Bruce Brown. His son Dana, who also specializes in surf-’n’-dirt movies (Step Into Liquid among the former), directs and narrates this one. The ’71 picture had the advantage of featuring Steve McQueen—a biking devotee—in the action; and while The Next Chapter has no equivalent star power, it does present some genuine maniacs along the way. Brown leads off with Robbie Maddison, who follows closely in the treadmarks of daredevil/bone-breaker Evel Knievel. Maddison’s stunts, which include jumping his bike from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and soaring off an Austrian ski jump, will likely have you shouting things out loud to the screen—at least that’s the effect they had on me. Brown looks in on an international MotoGP racing circuit, paying special attention to two Spanish riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, as they battle for position over the course of a season.
But the movie’s not chained to competition, and Brown makes time for quirky individuals and beautiful locations. The latter include British Columbia and a loopy competition in the snow of Alberta; there’s also a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where gearheads are still trying to set new speed records. The narration is not as jokey as in his father’s films, but Dana Brown hits the right cheerful-cornball tone throughout, and he even keeps an open mind about electric bikes (oh, what a relief they would be). There are lots of crashes, of course, because Brown understands how these movies work, but mostly the footage conveys flat-out, incredible speed. With tiny cameras that can fit anywhere, and the razor-sharp 4K digital pictures that result, a clever filmmaker can create eye-popping images. It’s much better than actually doing this stuff, unless you’re crazy.