Here’s an extreme sports documentary from Thierry Donard, who on account of his stunning photography has apparently been dubbed “the Fellini of adventure film-making”. True to his reputation, Reset combines some astonishingly beautiful images with guts-in-your-mouth thrilling sequences – though a bit more explanation would be helpful for viewers unfamiliar with the four sports featured.
Take speedflying, which looks a like super-fast, super-dangerous form of paragliding. The film follows a pair of shaggy-haired barefoot dudes, Jamie Lee and Malachi Templeton from New Zealand, as they take a running jump off Mont Blanc strapped to tiny paragliders which, to the untrained eye, look like glorified umbrellas. The pair hurtle down the mountain, inches above the rocks, whooping with the intoxicating, hedonistic thrill of it. Afterwards, Lee shrugs off the risk of death with a zen smile: “If that’s the way my body leaves this vessel …”
The most terrifying footage here is of a Norwegian duo, snowboarder Krister Kopala and skier Nikolai Schirmer, who climb mountains with ice axes and ropes. It takes up to 10 hours to reach the summit; the pair then kamikaze down in two, maybe three minutes, speeding at up to 100km/h along couloirs, narrow little ravines filled with snow and rocky ice. Donard films one descent from across the range, following a distant figure in black curving gracefully down the mountainside: it could be a scene from a Bond movie. Reset also features freediver Davide Carrera and hypnotic footage of surfers in Tahiti.
Irritatingly, Donard tacks on a bland eco message, when French actor Vincent Cassel gives a short narration at either end, spinning a nothing-y, shallow line about how we can all learn something about living simply and close to nature. Actually, don’t these globetrotters experience the same the guilt and conflict many of us have when flying on planet-destroying airplanes to get closer to nature? I would be far more interested in grilling these daredevils about what it is that takes them so far outside ordinary experience and so close to the abyss.