Sunday afternoon spins with the family look a whole lot different in On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter, a documentary about the love of motorcycle riding, and the daredevils who use them for speed and stunts.
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, directs and narrates this one.
The ’71 picture had the advantage of having 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 Pedroza, 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 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 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.