One of the biggest stars of the 1970s was daredevil Evel Knievel, who made a living risking life and limb performing crazy stunts. His biggest career failure occurred in 1974 when was his attempt at jumping Snake River Canyon was cut short when the rocket's parachute deployed shortly after take-off. Unbeknownst to me, which seems hard to believe in this information-overload age, another team attempted to redeem Knievel and his crew. Although the title doesn't make that clear, Stuntman tells that story.
Like many Gen-X kids, Eddie Braun looked up to Knievel, but he took that inspiration and became a stuntman, performing in television and movies since the '80s. Several years back, he was considering retirement and was curious what would be his last job, wanting it to be something memorable. He learned Scott Truax, the son of Robert Truax, who built Knievel’s X2 Skycycle, was attempting to build a rocket from his dad's plans in order to retry the jump and redeem his father's reputation. Braun decided that would be a fitting end to his career and wanted in.
But director Kurt Mattila's film shows how difficult a task it was. Building and testing a rocket is not a cheap endeavor, and while many folks thought it was a great idea, they didn't think it was so great an investment. To keep the dream alive, Braun had to become an investor as well, dipping so far into his family nest egg that retirement would have to be postponed. Some of the residents of Twin Falls, Idaho remembered how out of control things got with those in attendance at Knievel's jump and didn't want it repeated.
I would have liked to have heard more from his wife and kids to get a better understanding of why they were so willing to let Braun squandered his finances and possibly die in this pursuit. No doubt they were used to the idea of him risking his life every day at work considering the danger involved with stunts, but when he gets his son to agree to walk his sisters down the aisle, it seems like even Braun is seriously concerned he might not make it back.
Without giving away the ending, Stuntman is a story about pursuing dreams and redemption, and the highs and lows that can come with it. The film also speaks to pride as Braun was determined to go through with the stunt no matter what because he had talked about it for so long and needed to save face. But once the money started to dry up, who would have blamed him for it not going through when he came on board just to ride in the rocket? Jobs fall through all the time.
Stuntman is an entertaining watch, especially for an Evel Knievel fan.