What does it feel like to live life on the edge. To step out into the abyss every day. To place yourself in harms way. To stare down death. All so that the magic of the movies can be brought to life. These are the questions, thoughts and motifs that audiences find themselves confronted with in Stuntman, an extraordinary new documentary available on Disney+. And for anyone who has a true passion for the cinema, this is a much watch event.
This documentary follows professional stuntman Eddie Braun as he attempts one of the most dangerous stunts in history. Contemplating retirement and having survived over three decades of hellacious car crashes, explosions, high falls, and death-defying leaps, Eddie decides to finish out his career by recreating the infamous Snake River Canyon rocket jump, an audacious televised event that almost killed the man who inspired Eddie to become a professional stuntman: Evel Knievel.
Shot over the course of three years by director Kurt Mattila and produced in part by Hollywood megastar Dwayne Johnson and his Seven Bucks production company, Stuntman is an extraordinary piece of documentary film, and it takes audiences right to the very edge of what it means to be a stuntman and to make movies happen. It follows the dream of one extraordinary man Eddie Braun, a long-time Hollywood stunt player who has been a stunt man all his life working on massive projects for both TV and movies including The Dukes of Hazzard, Transformers and the Avengers. Braun also served as Charlie Sheen’s chief stunt double and he’s a man whose work is praised by his colleagues and who is regarded as one of the best stuntmen in the business.
But age, injuries and the passage of time have now caught up with Braun and with a family to support and the threat of permanent injury on his mind at all time this daredevil is mounting up for his last rodeo. And what a final ride it will be. Seeking inspiration from his childhood hero, All-American daredevil Evel Knievel, Braun seeks to complete the infamous Snake River Canyon rocket jump that almost took out Knievel, as his last act in the stunt game. And it’s one hell of a journey for this man to take to complete. From the start, Mattila embeds us in Braun’s life and we learn of his history as a professional daredevil and the trials and tribulations as he seeks this one final act.
Stuntman is a uniquely personal and introspective film. Yes, we are right there when Braun jumps headfirst into the melee, but the focus of this documentary is much more meditative and thought-provoking, and as Braun suffers through traumatic injuries, family responsibilities and the passage of time we see a portrait of a quintessential everyman with one very crazy life. Braun is a loveable guy. Smiling and happy-go-lucky with a deep love for his family and a great passion and commitment to his profession, we see this man battling to accomplish this crazy dream and live up to his idol and the final act of his superb career.
The road that Braun travels to complete this epic jump is not an easy one to travel on. It is filled with hazards and pitfalls, and failure is a constant at every turn. Braun is candidly open about the struggles to make this rocket fly and through failed sponsorships, failed rockets tests and massive doubts from those around him Braun stays true to his commitment to fly this rocket and go out on top. Stuntman is a pure David and Goliath tale and audiences will be gripped from start to finish as Braun does everything he can to accomplish his dream. And the final flight is UNBELIEVABLY EPIC to watch.
Stuntman is an utterly brilliant piece of cinema and audiences will be completely engaged and hooked into the story of an ordinary, yet an extremely talented man who wants to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream. It’s a profoundly moving story and one of the best documentaries you’ll see all year.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures