The Gerard Butler surfer-dude saga is a little wimpy overall, but its action sequences totally shred, dude....
ox / 117 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG / Street Date: February 26, 2013
You’ll see every solitary element of Chasing Mavericks heading your way - predictability is the film’s albatross – but with some Hollywood pixie dust and some kick-ass surfing photography, this unassuming coming-of-age tale finds a pulse. Chasing Mavericks is nearly catatonic from a screenwriting perspective, but directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted trust the visual elements of their narrative enough that they breeze through the film’s dramatic potholes quickly and stay focused on the hanging ten.
Our players in Chasing Mavericks are a plucky young teen and a grizzly, world-weary surfing pro who are thrown together. Back in the day, when Jay (Jonny Weston) was just a 6-year-old, wave-catching legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) saved him after a particularly gnarly crash, and ever since, the two neighbors share a common bond. As the film snaps to present day, we find our two protagonists dealing with the complications of puberty and the onset of full-fledged obsession, respectively.
See, Frosty has his attention tuned to the Mavericks, a particular brand of mega-waves that only appear at a specific place at a specific time along with very specific weather conditions outside the central Californian coast. These leviathan swells are irresistible to those who know about them, but they’re not exactly kittycats – dudes have been known to meet their maker in pursuit of these mighty giants. But Frosty has his mind made up, and he and Jay take aim at the Maverick legend.
Even a dumbed-down synopsis like this one is enough to orient viewers in terms of what to expect out of a film like Chasing Mavericks. Apted and Hanson are accomplished directors in their own regards, but there’s a clunkiness to the human elements of the movie that keep things at a TV-movie level that the film only shakes when it’s time to actually hit the surf. It’s during these exciting, gorgeous sequences that Chasing Mavericks transcends its low-rent melodramatic trappings and becomes legitimately fun to watch.