“Casey Stoner is still fishing.”

Got to be honest here, I’m late to the party on this one. No secret, I’ve had Hitting The Apex for about a fortnight now, but never got around to watching it (You’ll see why down the stretch). But I finally watched it yesterday, and I know many of you have been asking for my thoughts on this, so here comes an actual review. Better late than never, right?

“Hitting The Apex” was released in September 2015 and is the latest MotoGP docu-film from Mark Neale, the same director of “Faster”, “Fastest”, “Charge” and “The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid”. It’s a docu-film that follows the careers of six of the sport’s all-time fastest riders – Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli and Marc Marquez.

hittingtheapexfeat
The bulk of the documentary is structured through following four seasons, the 2010, 11, 12 and 13 specifically, but when the documentary focuses on a particular rider out of the six, it diverts into particular moments of their career. For instance, the doc starts on Casey Stoner quite early on, and you get a backstory to his upstart at Ducati, and his dirt-tracking days. Also, there are a lot of interviews sprinkled in over the course of the documentary from the riders themselves, to members of their family, and members of their teams, like Yakamoto and Gresini.

So how does it hold up in terms of structure? I really like it. HTA does a really great job of seamlessly drifting in and out of the rider’s individual moments, relating it to their pasts, while still doing a really good job of conveying their stories and piecing it all together. The documentary also does a terrific drop of dropping in information that even veteran fans might not know, like the relationship between Marco and Vale, and how Yamaha wanted Vale to take a paycut and be #2 rider for 2011 after Jorge won the title the previous year. Intriguing stuff that will catch your attention.

caseystoner_02
Personally, between 2009-2012, I didn’t pay the same level of attention to MotoGP that I do now, so HTA did a great job of filling in those gaps. Even if you’re not a hardcore MotoGP fan, there’s a lot to enjoy. The slow-motion work is some of the best in the business, some infamous and awesome clips are shown too, like when Casey Stoner ripped into Valentino Rossi with THAT line after Jerez 2011, or the fight between Marco Simoncelli and Jorge Lorenzo after
Valencia 2010.

The backstories and the lengths that Neale goes too, are wonderful, and probably the highlight of the entire experience. Going to Valentino Rossi’s home village, getting a perspective of the amount of pride the residents had for Vale, his official fan club, and the tradition of the bells being rung whenever he won, was amazing. You could feel the passion behind it, the struggle of his two seasons at Ducati and the story of Rossi’s win at Assen 2013, two and a half years since his last, was the best part of the documentary for sure.

I gathered a newfound respect for Jorge Lorenzo after watching. Sure, it’s easy to label him a complainer, and he was in the past, but seeing how he learnt from his experiences,

dealing through injury, and the relationship with his Dad he talked about, was awesome too.

Narrated-by-Brad-Pitt-HITTING-THE-APEX-–-UK-Trailer-3
Also, you can see a lot of that same progression in watching Marc Marquez flourish into the rider he is today, through that epic Estoril 2010 race in Moto3, to his multiple practise crashes in Moto2, and the accident at Sepang that nearly ended his career at 19. Never did I realize just how lucky he was to be the rider he is now, the early difficulties of his 2013 season, and the parallels to the rider now, struggling in 2015 when the bike didn’t go his way.

And all this, is where Hitting The Apex truly shines – it’s ability to tell a story you may or may not have known, in the eyes of the heroes who rode during it all, in a new perspective, and a new side to the riders you’ve been rooting for or against. And Brad Pitt does a very nice job with the narration. Subtle, powerful, cohesive, but never overbearing or obnoxious.

Hitting The Apex isn’t perfect though, and I have two main problems with it – Number 1, is the runtime, which definitely put me off watching it for a little while. 2 hours and 18 minutes is a LONG time, and even I have to admit, I was losing concentration towards the end. It’s only a minor complaint, as there is a LOT of content and backstory crammed into the 138 minutes, but it can be a little bit of a grind.

hitting-the-apex
The second issue, was the fact that Neale decided to include the crash that killed Marco Simoncelli at Sepang 2011. Twice. Now, I don’t know if Mark’s creative direction was for shock value, but I definitely feel like it was an unnecessary decision. Seeing Marco there, his helmet forcibly removed from his head, and his body prone on the track, will deeply upset a lot of people.

On the whole though, Hitting The Apex is a fantastic documentary. It was my first time watching Neale’s work, and I might actually go back and watch his other work, as I loved how this was all put together. If you’re a hardcore MotoGP fan, this is definitely worth a watch for the unseen footage and the

interviews alone, and even if you’re not, it’s a tremendous example of putting this ridiculous sport into some kind of context.

Highly recommended from me, and a must buy if you’re a Motorsport fan. (And a massive thanks to Joshua Sutill for providing the copy of the Blu-Ray for me, it really means a lot. Subscribe to him here!)

8.5/10