Runs Fri., July 19–Thurs., July 25 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 95 minutes.
This is a fine documentary, perhaps even a success, when it sticks to what it purports to be: an extreme sports flick that uses 3-D cameras attached to boards, held by surfers, and hovering from helicopters to immerse us in the huge waves found miles off the Australian shore. Sadly, ocean swells aren’t the only thing directors Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius try to immerse us in. They also chase storylines meant to add gravity to the film, but that end up making it feel lost at sea. The legendary surfers the film follows, Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll, are too wooden onscreen to be engaging. And as we watch an injured Carroll rehabilitate himself on waves much smaller than the promised stormy swells, the doc’s already flimsy narrative crashes into the reef.