Rapid Response review – motor sports documentary stays in the slow lane | Documentary films

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Even if you are not an aficionado of motor sports, let alone the particular branch of it that revolves around US race competitions such as the Indy 500, this documentary on injury medicine within this sector was, surprisingly, a little bit interesting. Perhaps that’s because directors Roger Hinze and Michael William Miles so single-mindedly keep the focus on the medical track, as opposed to the asphalt one, which makes physicians such as on-site medical officer Stephen Olvey and orthopaedic surgeon Terry Trammell the real heroes of the story, rather than drivers such as Mario Andretti. It’s as if, say, a history of an architectural style is being told through the eyes of plumbers – not where you would expect the focus to be but interesting nonetheless.

Rapid Response, however, doesn’t start well. The first section offers a string of crash footage accompanied by talking heads explaining just how bad the mutilations are, as if made by a diehard fan of the gore-porn of JG Ballard’s Crash. But then it starts to explore how the rapid responders’ interventions began to inform the sport, shaping first the emergency procedures on the track – amazingly, it took a while for the organisers to think of having helicopters on hand to evacuate injured drivers – and then even the design of the cars.

utterly unsurprised to learn that any innovations in safety that caused the cars to slow down were resisted, even if they saved lives, but eventually some of that safety tech crossed over into car design for regular vehicles. Meanwhile, just as wars help improve trauma medicine, this highly dangerous sport over time helped to refine the treatment of foot, hand and head injuries and so on. There are some neat, borderline gory animations to illustrate how concussions work, which for this viewer were a lot more interesting than the endless stretches of racing footage. The anonymous, off-the-peg score of backing music and flat editing, however, still make this a bit of a slog.

• Rapid Response is released in the US and the UK on 6 September.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Rapid Response review – motor sports documentary stays in the slow lane | Documentary films

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