Directed by Paul Taublieb and Jon Freeman
Taublieb Films, 2016
92 minutes, Unrated
By Tammy Wanchena
In 1988, my best friend, Pam and I saw Imagine: John Lennon. We left the theater planning our next album in spite of the fact that neither of us played any instruments or had an ounce of musical talent. Now, almost thirty years later and in my mid-forties, I find myself convinced I must ride freestyle motocross thanks to the adrenalin rush of Unchained: The Untold Story of Freestyle Motocross. I challenge anyone to not get swept away by the enthusiasm for riding in this film.
Narrated by Josh Brolin, Unchained covers the story of the birth, growth, and back-story of freestyle motocross. It traces the early days of freestyle from the semi-underground videos like the Crusty Demons of Dirt series, to the rise of freestyle motocross as a legitimate form of competition, and on to it’s arrival at the X Games. You see the highs, the lows, the danger, and the reward found in this unique facet of motorcycling.
It starts simple enough. The high-pressure world of professional Motocross and Supercross meant the pros went looking for a way to blow off some steam and ride for fun away from the track. Riders would gather at favorite riding spots, goof around on big jumps and pull stunts for the amusement of one another. As happens anywhere two riders are gathered, they began to try and out do one another. The jumps got bigger, the stunts got crazier, and then the cameras showed up.
Many motorcycling legends tell their stories of how they got started in their careers, from the clean cut and boyish Travis Pastrana to tattooed and utterly fearless crash-master Seth Enslow. Mothers and wives talk about how it feels to watch events. I was expecting more guitar-laced montages of sweet jumps and epic crashes. Instead, Unchained gives an inside look from the rider’s perspective to an on the edge sport. This movie speaks to anyone looking to be entertained, regardless of their knowledge of motorcycles.