“I’m the face you never see,” Eddie Braun says, even though he’s racked up more than 250 film and TV credits. Braun’s hot rod greaser hairdo and battered jumpsuits signify that he’s either a “Stuntman,” hence the title of Kurt Mattila’s simplistic documentary, or an aging astronaut pressed into service for one last mission, which also turns out to be close to the truth. Now in his 50s, Braun is bored of barrel-rolling exploding cars, as are his wife and four kids whose ho-hum response to his latest fireball implies they think of their pops as indestructible.
Yet, Braun seeks his own immortality — the chance to nail a stunt that eluded his idol Evel Knievel — and commits to jumping Idaho’s Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket. And Mattila, a car commercial director itchy to shift gears in his own career, tracks the nearly four year process of getting Braun across a leviathan gorge with a boost from the son of the original rocket’s engineer who wants to prove that his dad’s design would have worked, if not for a pesky parachute malfunction.
This is a documentary for kids, a point made in the introduction where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tells tykes not to try this at home. (“This” meaning fusing a steam whistle to a lawn dart and vaulting three and a half football fields.) Braun is in hero mode, repeatedly assuring the camera, and the guitar player Slash who’s agreed to record him an anthem, that he’ll be fine. Lacking deep emotions, the film cuts over and over to American flags. The only drama comes when the stunt’s TV sponsors back out — twice — forcing Braun to put his money where his life is. There’s something morbid about a world where a brave man is more scared of financial, than physical, risk. But that’s a leap this doc can’t take.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. Watch on Disney+.
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