A torrent of speed, danger and exciting personalities are played out in Mark Neale’s Hitting the Apex, which focuses on the intense sporting attraction that is MotoGP. Neale who gave us Faster and Fastest is at it again but this time round he primarily focuses on the story of five riders who seek to wrestle the title from the legendary world champion Valentino Rossi. Brad Pitt’s unmistakable voice adds the narration as well as producing the piece.
At two hours long I was wondering how much I could cope seeing these men hurl themselves around a track at such incredible speeds but Neale presents much more than just the thrilling races and gives us a deep insight into not just the mechanics of the machines but of the racers themselves. Neale documents the uprising of young stars Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli and Marc Marquez and it’s the relationships between the drivers that are the most engaging aspect of the film. The drama and conflict between the six racers is engrossing to watch as the friendships and mutual respect they have is frequently put to the test. The danger involved is evident and the facts presented to the viewer are at times mind boggling, so it’s easy to see why tension is so rife amongst everyone. This made for an exceptionally interesting watch, the fact we were shown the stories of primarily six drivers added to this, as the content wasn’t watered down. Neale delved into all of these racers stories and like many documentaries of this kind I wasn’t disappointed by the lack of focus of the people involved.
During a press conference after a particular dangerous and not un-common incident on the racecourse Marco Simoncelli brushes aside Jorge Lorenzo’s complaints, which has all those gathered in hysterics. Clearly incensed by this Lorenzo states, “This question has everybody laughing but it’s not funny as we are playing with our lives”. This is regularly seen and there are vast amount of heart in mouth situations and Neale shows the viewer that this is not just a piece of sporting entertainment. Marco Simoncelli’s team director Fausto Gresini later remarks that, “ This is part of the game, the game of life. We’re here today, tomorrow we don’t know”. We are shown the driver’s fears and ambition to push themselves. We are shown what makes them get on the bike knowing they are one mistake away from a fatal accident and I was completely absorbed by it all.
The cinematography by Grant Gee is a pleasure to see and it highlights the spectacle of the sport and the enormous danger involved. The music by Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn coupled with the spectacular shots makes the film exceptionally emotive at times. At one point I found myself on the verge of tears and I can honestly say I did not expect that to happen during a documentary on MotoGP.
This documentary was one of the most enjoyable I have seen in a long time and I can strongly recommend seeing it. It’s so much more than a sporting event with adrenaline junkies bombing around a track at ludicrous speeds. The human aspect of the film, which can so often be forgotten, was brilliantly presented and Neale has made a truly captivating film.
Dir: Mark Neale
Scr: Mark Neale
Featuring: Brad Pitt (narrator), Jorge Lorenzo, Jose Manuel Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa
Prd: Mark Neale, Brad Pitt
DOP: Grant Gee, Chris Norr, Jan Zabeli
Run time: 138 mins
Hitting the Apex is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital now.