I haven’t ever competed in a triathlon and I probably never will.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable enough on two wheels but I’m not a great swimmer (in a pool, let alone in open water) and my body does not like being made to run. Anywhere.
So the closest I’m going to get is reading about or watching competitions, the Olympics, drooling over gorgeous tri-bike porn like this…
Looks good right? Emotionally charged, nice cinematography, good score… So I took a punt, paid my money and watched it last night.
It started well. The opening credits feature Fitzpleasure by Alt J. Cracking song. And then it went downhill. Fast.
The story revolves around Natalie, an Ultrasound Tech who is basically dared to do a triathlon by one of her patients, Candice, and then talks her friend Skyler into it as well. Her inability to finish anything is demonstrated to the viewer because she doesn’t eat her pizza crusts… genius. The script isn’t great. It doesn’t give the actors much to work with. There’s a lot of SHOUTY ACTING when the scenes really don’t demand it – particularly from Candice. There’s no real character development, the direction isn’t fantastic and it can’t make up its mind whether it’s a comedy or a drama. We learn that triathlons are tough and that bonking (possibly not in the sense of the word that you’re thinking) and cancer is bad. And not a lot more than that.
The two leads, Natalie (Jensen Jacobs / Bucher) and Skyler (Walker Hays) are watchable. Their chemistry is pretty good, it certainly doesn’t feel as forced as the rest of the character dialogue in the movie, but again it’s the script and direction that drags them down.
For every good character there’s someone like Zeus, a retired wrestler and cancer widower who’s some sort of softly spoken Tri-Yoda! On the whole, the cast of characters is just generally very difficult to like or connect with.
Even the tag-line on the poster doesn’t really make sense until you watch the film, ‘When surviving cancer is not enough’. And when I say it makes sense afterwards, it doesn’t really… the main character isn’t a cancer survivor. Nor is her best friend, nor are most (all but one in fact) of the team she trains with. But cancer is mentioned. A lot.
And not in a ‘let’s tackle this subject properly’ kind of way. It does it in a heavy handed, almost over the top kind of way.
There’s one of the most dreadfully unintentionally funny bike crashes in cinematic history. And god only knows what the hell the ending is all about – it’s more farce than believable comedy and it’s a long way away from serious drama.
So that’s the bad, but is there anything good?
Well, yeah. The scenes shot at the Luray Triathlon and Washington Nation’s Triathlon are good – because they’re shot at real Triathlons. Here, where you’ve probably got several camera crews working under their own unit directors there genuinely is a bit of spectacle – in the best way. The set up, the transition zones, the open water swimming, cycling and running sequences in a lot of cases shot against the backdrop of DC landmarks – all good. And then they’re ruined by the finish line finale where there is a whole lot of stupid and precisely zero spectators to make you believe that you’re actually watching the end of the same race.
It just falls flat. It’s well and truly in the realm of Made For TV or Straight To DVD movie.
It’s disappointing, so I guess I’ll keep hoping and looking out for a decent Triathlon movie.