Before the leap, a giant prelude
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, December 7, 2012
There’s more waiting than lightning in “Waiting for Lightning,” a nonetheless watchable-enough documentary about the preparations leading up to professional skateboarder Danny Way’s historic 2005 attempt to sail over the Great Wall of China on a skateboard.
Reminiscences about Way’s personal and professional background, including miscellaneous injuries and competitive milestones -- along with the emotional losses, in sequence, of Way’s father, Dennis; his stepfather, Tim O’Dea; and his skating mentor, Mike Ternasky -- form the core of the film. They are all discussed at great and repetitive length, but sometimes you just want to get to the main event. Or at least to the construction of the giant ramp that facilitated the jump.
Don’t worry; it eventually comes. It’s pretty gnarly, too (in both the “dangerous” sense of the word and the sense of “awesome.”) Still, the parade of talking heads that precedes it -- including pro skater Tony Hawk, surfing legend Laird Hamilton, Way’s mother, Mary, and many others singing Way’s praises -- goes on a little longer than feels absolutely necessary, especially for someone who is not, in point of fact, the messiah.
Skateboarding fans may disagree, of course.
In truth, the film by Jacob Rosenberg is only for the converted. Those who have not been initiated into the church of skateboarding, or who simply don’t buy the notion of the sport’s power to miraculously heal emotional wounds, may find the whole thing, at times, a little, well, boring.
I know, it’s kind of hard to imagine that a movie about jumping over the Great Wall on a piece of wood on wheels could ever be boring. But there you have it. Sometimes you wait so long for lightning that the show itself is a little bit of a letdown.
Contains dangerous sports action, some obscenity and references to drug and alcohol abuse.