Arts movie review

Ride isn’t just another sports-type BMX movie

An inspiring, atypical underdog story based upon the life of real-life BMX star, John Buultjens

Directed by Alex Ranarivelo
Produced by Hadeel Reda and Ali Afshar
Starring Ludacris, Shane Graham, Sasha Alexander, and Blake Sheldon
Rated PG-13
Soon to be released

Surpassing many limitations imposed by the budget of an indie film, this work has undoubtedly proven to be worth the watch.

Unlike many sports movies of a similar kind, Ride interweaves a crucial societal element into its plot: the pressing topic of race. It doesn’t merely sprinkle it in. Rather, it utilizes race as a vehicle to convey the importance of seizing second chances and to drive a change for more acceptance. Although not flawless in the cinematic sense, the film is inherently inspiring at its core.

Adapted from the true story of Scottish BMX rider John Buultjens’s life, Ride follows the life of a young child (John) from a white supremacist family who finds himself in a juvenile detention center. Through the efforts of a persistently supportive social worker, John finds himself eligible to enter a foster home only to discover that his foster parents are interracial, to his dismay. When John’s foster father buys him his first bike, John becomes captivated by the world of BMX. Through the sport, he finds not only glory but also acceptance and forgiveness.

Although all of the actors and actresses provide a raw and emotional delivery on their performances, there was some disconnect between the believability of the performers and their roles. At times, it almost seemed unnatural for the actors to be playing their characters in a way that sacrificed the emotional connection that the audience would’ve wanted to draw with the storyline.

Additionally, the different aspects of the piece did feel slightly disconnected at certain points. From one scene to the next, it often felt as though the topic at hand was unresolved before moving on. With regard to the race issue, the film takes a rather unrealistically positive regard toward racial tension and hostility. In the initial scenes, the conflict between John’s white supremacist thoughts and tendencies formed a paramount part of the film’s message, but as everything progressed, the focus shifted entirely toward his newfound BMX career without dedicating much explanation toward his thoughts toward race.

However, it is necessary to note that while this film was produced under an immensely tight budget, the graphics and the range of action shots were definitely beyond impressive.

Besides cinematic aspects, the film was, at heart, an undeniably moving and well-intentioned work aimed to facilitate connections person-to-person, regardless of skin color. The rawness of emotion was truly felt through every hug and every tear. Yet, perhaps the most important takeaway from the film was the notion that people are indeed capable of changing for the better and that there’s always sufficient time to turn one’s life around, just as John proved.

While certain aspects of the film were more questionable than others, ultimately, Ride is still a high quality piece that provides both entertainment and reflection as well as good-feeling. Please, go watch it. You won’t regret it.