I’ve just sat down to watch a dubplate screening of Hitting the Apex: a behind the scenes MotoGP documentary directed by Mark Neale who gave us Faster and Fastest. Essentially, it’s the story of MotoGP from the late Noughties to the current day, covering six riders and the main players during this era: Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marco Simoncelli.
A Mark Neale film wouldn’t be complete without an über celebrity to narrate the job, so Brad Pitt was wheeled in to add an element of Hollywood drama and assist in production. An onslaught of sexy slow-mos and just as many crashes (and subsequent cartoony sound effects) awaits, and never gets boring if you’re a die-hard MotoGP fan.
As racing journo extraordinaire @denkmit suggested, Hitting the Apex might seem like two hours of rehashed Dorna footage to racing aficionados, which it to some extent. But there are some well-done exclusive, never-seen-before clips to join the (sometimes) monotonous Dorna stuff, plus some historical material on the riders’ backgrounds and upbringings. Even the press conference highlights and riders bitching are highly entertaining, which most if us don’t get to see unless living in the paddock.
Given the film’s featured riders, there’s a focus on personal battles – particularly Stoner and Rossi – and, of course, the tragic demise of Marco Simoncelli, with an emotional recollection of events in Malaysia. I hadn’t seen the Sic crash in years. It turned my stomach. I cried. No other riders’ death has affected me like Simoncelli’s.
If I put my Jonathan Woss film critic’s hat on, Hitting the Apex is a bit sluggish to start and occasionally bitty, and at well over two hours long it’s also a bit of a marathon if you’re attempting to sit down with the wife/husband/kids/slave. But it’ll please MotoGP newbs with back-to-basics and will satisfy any racer wanting another history lesson. Considering the spectacle, the high and lows, the emotions clearly evident, I bloody loved it. And surely any MotoGP blockbuster with a Hollywood actor narrating can only be a good thing for our sport?
If you enjoyed Faster and Fastest, it’s a certainty you’ll love Hitting the Apex. The ‘premiere’ is being staged at this weekend’s British GP at Silverstone and it’ll be aired in cinemas from the 2nd of September. Hard copies will be available from the 7th of September on Blu-ray and DVD.