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Base Review

Base is 2017 action adventure about a global playboy who lives his life quite literally on the edge, pursuing man’s greatest dream until a jump goes wrong.

It’s a little hard to know how to feel about Richard Parry‘s Base, a highly unusual ode to extreme sports, as it seems to defy description. On one hand, for much of it, it’s an extraordinarily breathtaking behind the scenes into a world few would dare to even consider. On the other, it’s muddled narrative that loosely tries to tell a strange brew of friendship, romance, danger and loss. It gets even more tangled once you know the film’s star, Alexander Polli, an extreme base jumper himself, died in a wingsuit crash in the French Alps last year, causing a delay in the film’s release. In many respects, it feels very much like a tribute, even a commentary on such, all while it clings with fragility to its thin story.

Polli plays JC, a globetrotting adventurer addicted to one thing: taking to the air via base jumping and wingsuit flying. His partner is Chico (Carlos Pedro Briceño), and the two take to the most dangerous jumps they can find, filming everything with GoPros as they seek bigger and more challenging thrills. Chico soon meets Ash (Julie Dray), a girl who fits right in with pair, even as she silently expresses worry about their passions. Problem is, the somewhat selfish JC develops feelings for her himself.

I’m going to stop right there because to say more would really tread close to spoilers and while the ‘story’ per se is incredibly light, it’s best to preserve what happens and let you experience it all your own. And believe me, ‘experience’ is the right word as most of the movie is astonishing footage of some truly harrowing jumps, surely most of it completely authentic. Parry brings his ‘actors’ to some jaw-dropping locales, having them jump in the high peaks (both of nature and man made) of Italy, England, Switzerland, Brazil, and more. One sequence after another has them zipping through the air with blinding speed barely above the trees tops, and for fans of those very popular YouTube videos, will be a treat. A buzz past Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer is as nail-biting a moment as you’ll perhaps see all year.

Filmed entirely on handhelds and GoPros, the pseudo-documentary has a found footage feel to it and for that, serves well in bringing us close to the action. Where it stumbles though is with everything else, the style not able to handle the deeply emotional moments that some of the story demands. Granted, Parry is likely trying to do something edgy, but as things escalate, and gravity proves the greater power over all, Base loses steam. Polli is basically playing himself, yet doesn’t quite have the presence outside his wingsuit to carry the film. Granted, there’s not much time when he’s not in a wingsuit, and this is probably part of the problem as we hardly get a chance to become invested in him or the others. Dray makes for a necessary component to it all, being a voice of reason, and yet she is also underused, and in a film that runs only 83 minutes, that’s saying something.

Base is a perplexing movie, a film of extremes, going from high altitude, mind bending soaring, to screeching halts with JC sitting at a film editing program contemplating life and death with monotone narration and bouts of guilt. Excuses to have a camera on these people also runs thin when not in the air, and as such, like many in the found footage genre, suffers for it. That’s not to say Base is a loss, because that’s not the case at all. While admittedly, even an hour of this kind of footage eventually becomes a bit mundane, the takeaway is still kind of touching since it’s impossible not to keep the fate of Polli out of your mind. Most who come to this are probably fans of his and of the sport, and will more likely savor the flying than the story, and to be sure, for that, there is much that will make this well worth a look.

Base Review

Movie description: Base is 2017 action adventure about a global playboy who lives his life quite literally on the edge, pursuing man's greatest dream until a jump goes wrong.

Director(s): Richard Parry

Actor(s): Carlos Pedro Briceño, Julie Dray, Alexander Polli

Genre: Action

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