Title: Never Not Part 1
Directors: Joe Carlino, Riley Poor
Riders: Manuel Diaz, Jed Anderson, Nicolas Müller, Justin Benee, Johnnie Paxson, Sage Kotsenburg, Ethan Morgan, Jess Kimura, Spencer O’Brien, Laura Hadar, Annie Boulanger, Austin Smith, Halldor Helgason, Gigi Rüf
Everyone has been waiting like a gold digger in a geriatric ward for this movie to drop. This is because, let’s be honest for their first ‘proper’ film outing you got the feeling that Nike were going to do it right. The anticipation was such that, when the announcement of a 24 hour preview on Youtube was made, snowboarders worldwide let out little yelps of embarrassment and shuffled to the toilet (except the ladies who just bit their lips). Well, the wait has been well, well worth it.
The general feel of the film is great, with a soundtrack of (mostly) understated guitars, nice cinematography and just enough scenery and slow-mo snowfall to create atmosphere without being boring. The riding does the talking; Nike’s approach with everything has always been to ‘Just Do It’ and the same applies here. After a quick, no mucking about, but slightly haphazard introductory montage and riders’ mug shots, Never Not drops you straight into Manuel Diaz’s high-alpine charge-a-thon, ending in a straightline out of a sketchy-as-hell looking avalanche slough scenario. Cut to our hero riding away and breathe a sigh of relief. Good solid hill sliding, and an impressive part for the relatively unknown South American. Although I confess I feel it perhaps wasn’t the strongest opener, and I must admit at this point I was not blown away.
Next though came Jed Anderson’s section. The obvious high-alpine to street juxtaposition set up another recurring theme – this movie is about Snowboarding ‘au natural’. There are almost no park shots, and it’s a much better movie for it. Jed’s section is standout. Not just standout in terms of this movie, or even in terms of the rest of this season’s movies, but standout in terms of “all time standout”. There’s his technical urban jibbery on rails so kinky it’s like a Meccano convention in a Soho sex shop. That much we expected, but what we didn’t expect was to see the Canadian hitting backcountry booters as well. And how. Turns out he’s got some serious skills there too. The editing then baffles for a second as the tune fades away, seeming to signify the end of Jed’s part, only for Keith Richards’ guitar to come in gently introducing the next shot and Jed re-appear. He gives us a few more bangers (including a front lip 270 on through a pretty savage kink and the gnarly gap to back lip closer) before taking a second bow and making way for Nico Müller. To be honest though you can’t really begrudge a rider that good the chance to come back for an encore.
Jed takes technical urban jibbery to rails so kinky it’s like a Meccano convention in a Soho sex shop.
And then it’s Mr Muller. We’ve may have seen similar sections before, but it is beautiful to behold. Whole articles have been and will yet be written about this man’s style. The excellent coupling with the Rolling Stones’ ‘You can’t always get what you want’ seems a little like a two way irony/middle finger: it appears Nico gets what he wants most of the time, even if he has to walk quite a lot to get it, and the viewer is left ever so slightly jealous. Still, delightful viewing. By now we are into the meat of the movie proper and the big names and sick tricks keep flowing. Justin Bennee sticks to his solid, simple, stylish ‘gap and drop’ street riding until he closes with a nuts gap to re-direct off a tree at a hefty pace. Ethan Morgan’s tidy mix of street and pow closes with an impressively lazy looking double cork front 10 tail. Jess Kimura’s section is so good that she is afforded a comedy tree collision and still gets an encore after the rest of an impressive field of ladies. Annie Boulanger shreds big hills like nothing and Spencer O’Brien spins cleanly and stylishly off into the sunset.
Austin Smith’s part features a host of great tree-line pow shredding on a little swallow tail number, to a tune that gives a tip of the hat to The Doors and makes the early autumn desire to ride hills burn deeper. And then we get to the section that, for many, is what they have been waiting for, Halldor. The boy is bat-shit crazy (in the best possible way) and it doesn’t look like some mid-season timeout to recover from his little ‘woopsie’ during January’s ESPN ‘Merica fest (aka the X Games) slowed him down at all. I can’t even remember the tune that was playing, it didn’t matter. It could have been ‘pat-a-cake pat-a-cake’ by Milli Vanilli and it wouldn’t have detracted from this mental part. His online antics and renowned tomfoolery at comps, may, from time to time, make people wonder why Halldor is held in such high esteem in this age of professional athletes; this section will clear that up. I don’t want to spoil the moment of the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but suffice to say his closer is a bit of a jaw-dropper.
But that’s not the end. Oh no. And as you watch Gigi butter between cornices at the steep end of an Alaskan peak and tuck-knee misty-flip (Misty-Flip FFS, I feel like I’m in Cool Boarders 2 and I love it) off cliffs it’s hard not to feel that the riding in this film is pretty special. Not just Gigi’s, all of it. And as you listen to David Bowie announce that ‘oh no, you’re not alone’ it’s hard not to feel that the soundtrack is pretty special too. Putting my anally retentive movie-critic’s hat on for a second there are a few things that niggle slightly. At times Never Not feels a bit disjointed and there are a couple of repeat shots, quite obvious ones. Is it really necessary to re-run those bangers back to back at the end of the credits? Also, while the editing keeps the vibe right, the structure does feel like the whole has been put together formulaically. Standout ‘full-song’ sections precede ‘the urban bit’ and ‘the ladies bit’ then some more full parts. But to be honest, it seems be churlish to quibble, cos when you’re using raw ingredients as fine as this, a simple no frills recipe still produces a damn good meal. And at the end of the day, Never Not Part 1 succeeds overwhelmingly where it counts – it made me want to go out and ride.
Whitelines’ Rating: 8/10