Lucy Walker's documentary is exhilarating and grim viewing. The exhilaration comes from the acrobatic feats of her snowboarder protagonists.
The downside is the inevitability of injury. Kevin Pearce, her main character, lands on his head while in training for the Olympics. As Walker chronicles his recovery, it becomes apparent that safety and healthcare provisions in the sport are inadequate.
The Crash Reel is far richer than the typical sports doc. It works as a study of a family trying to cope with adversity and a polemic about the way that athletes are exploited by a sort of desperation to provide more thrills to audiences.
Kevin's comeback from his head injuries seems like an upbeat story about defying the odds but, as Walker shows us, it is more complicated than that.