Chasing Mavericks (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/07/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 116 mins

By-the-numbers biopic with a lacklustre script and bland performances from both Weston and Butler, though it gets a boost from some exciting surfing sequences.

What's it all about?
Directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted (who stepped in after Hanson fell ill), Chasing Mavericks is based on the true story of surfer Jay Moriarty, who rose to fame after being photographed riding a giant wave at the age of 16, but died while free diving just before his 23rd birthday. The film begins with tide-obsessed 9 year old Jay (Cooper Timberline) getting rescued from the waves by local legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler), who turns out to be his next-door neighbour.

Ignored by his alcoholic single mother (Elisabeth Shue), Jay bonds with reluctant father figure Frosty and learns to surf. Seven years later, he discovers the existence of the giant waves at Mavericks cove and asks Frosty to train him to surf them. Meanwhile, Jay has to deal with his mother's continuing problems and a local bat-wielding bully (Taylor Handley), while also pursuing dream girl Kim (Leven Rambin).

The Good
The film starts well, with an engaging child performance from young Cooper Timberline; unfortunately, he's quickly replaced with Jonny Weston, who's as bland as he is blonde. Butler isn't much better as Frosty and it's hard not to snigger when he's dispensing cheesy surfing wisdom (it's not quite along the lines of ‘Be the wave’, but it might as well be).

Where the film succeeds is in its impressive surfing sequences, courtesy of cinematographer Bill Pope; the climax of the film is genuinely exciting, with some exceptional wave-wrangling work and Hanson/Apted's direction wringing maximum suspense out of the bits where Jay is trapped underwater.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that the surrounding story is so bland; in particular, the sub-plot involving the bully is so badly handled that it probably should have been cut (it doesn't help that Taylor Handley's heart doesn't seem to really be in the whole bullying thing – the actor playing Young Bully is actually much more effective). The film also completely wastes its three central actresses (Shue, Rambin and Abigail Spencer as Frosty's surf-widowed wife), which feels like a wasted opportunity, particularly in Shue's case.

Worth seeing?
Chasing Mavericks is a disappointing surfing drama that avoids total wipe-out thanks to its spectacular surfing sequences, but is brought down by a bland script and dull performances.

Film Trailer

Chasing Mavericks (PG)
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 23:07

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