Has Disney done justice to Button and Brown’s F1 fairy tale?

Has Disney done justice to Button and Brown’s F1 fairy tale?

How much do you like a documentary if the subject does a lot of work?

It’s always easy to take the case for Formula 1’s flagship product Drive to Survive – I certainly did – given its muddled and often exaggerated storylines, but the producers of the hit Netflix film are applying a very specific set of restrictions.

They clearly find themselves doing a lot of comics on the fly, subject to the whims of narrating the specific weekends they choose to follow this or that team – and look, the season might be as bad as all. But no matter how bad it is, you still have to deliver a product.

There is no such problem for Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Storythe exclusive Disney+ series hosted by Keanu Reeves will premiere a week from now, starting Wednesday, November 15.

The 2009 F1 season has a reputation for being a fairytale indeed. It combines the backwards narrative and leap of faith of something like Moneyball, one of the best sports movies, with the machinations and dastardly machinations of something like…well, Formula 1. It’s a ready-made game that has made an underdog tale for the ages.

Ultimately, in this regard, this initial question should only matter for things like awards consideration – for the casual viewer, the entertaining and informative package will undoubtedly suffice no matter how open-ended the 2009 story is.

And it’s still possible to miss open goals (as a Chelsea fan, I’m familiar with this sight). Brawn: The impossible Formula 1 story No. He clicks with aplomb. It’s not a revelation, but a worthy and well-executed entry into F1 TV nonetheless.

The story of Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 spans four episodes of approximately one hour each, usually coming in only after the 60-minute mark. It takes the viewer from the starting point they’d expect – Honda’s withdrawal from Formula 1 that looked like the end for the Brackley-based team before the Ross Brawn-led rescue – and ends where you’d expect it too, with the championship celebrations at Interlagos.

Opportunities are or choices are Beautiful It’s a good thing that if you’re on this site, you’re well aware of the story of the Formula 1 champions who came out of nowhere in 2009. As an aside, though: Amid a disappointing period during Honda’s Formula 1 factory run, the Northamptonshire team received a return Attributing it to the famous former Tyrrell team was a major shock in the form of Honda’s sudden exit, even though the car had already been designed for that. 2009.

Team boss Ross Brawn and CEO Nick Fry preserved the team’s place on the grid – at least initially – by taking over management, only to discover that the car Honda had left behind had actually gone out at a bewildering pace, thanks largely to a loophole in the regulations. Artistic. – The famous “double diffuser” – well exploited.

With the help of Formula 1’s traditional powers out of the gates, the newly renamed Brawn GP managed to make hay while the sun was shining despite a meager budget by all accounts – and then held on through the exciting second half of the season, an early advantage for it after That has been largely erased.

This is the story you get in Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story, although its weight is a little different. The narrative is actually much more spaced out over the course of the season than one might expect – in theory, almost an entire episode could probably be devoted to the team’s pre-season realization of what their car’s weapon is, but it doesn’t really happen.

This is not necessarily a criticism. In fact, it serves the doc well to maintain the somewhat brisk pace that it does, as it helps strike a balance between catering to those who come in blind and those who are already well-versed in Brown’s story.

After all, there has been no shortage of Brawn GP retrospective reviews. And if you’ve read or seen one or two in your time, there will be quite a few examples of “Oh, I know that story!” During the document runtime. But, in a way, specialized That knowledge and familiar ground will have to be covered anyway if there is to be a virtual understanding that a Brawn GP documentary is worthwhile – something that is easy to accept, given the influx of new fans into Formula One.

At the same time, there’s certainly material that feels very fresh (shout out to ‘Cambergate’) and a generally welcome broad scope of coverage, with the show’s creators clearly committed to telling a fairly comprehensive story of the 2009 season through the prism of Brawn GP rather than focusing entirely on the team British.

Although clearly interconnected, for impression-building purposes, Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1’s four-episode story can be split into two parts – the off-track politics/team survival sections and the race weekend/on-track event modifications sections. .

The first is generally the stronger of the two. What risks being at times somewhat dry material – although the interviews are strong enough to hold your attention – is supported by strong narrative editing and some great tricks, most of which are enduring examples of staged ‘quasi-historical’ entertainment featuring Brown and Fry. Which is often a pretty smooth transition to the present day.

The depiction of Formula 1’s favorite topic of discussion, the “prize cake” that is always in the news, is a particularly inventive bit of directorial swagger, and the story surrounding it – and the wider political games that Brawn GP repeatedly found itself in the thick of – is well told, Even though I wasn’t a F1 writer in 2009, I had a hard time ensuring the photography was balanced.

What may disappoint some is that the technical aspects are relatively brief. The dual publisher is explained, yes, but without a deep dive into its exact mechanics and the details of the legal arguments surrounding it.

Perhaps it’s understandable – the scope of the work would never have allowed for a big-budget, 20-minute animation lecture on technical intricacies. Even within the surface-level overview, a surprising surprise creeps in – the effect of the extra downforce is described as “more speed in corners means it’ll be faster on the straights”, which is accurate on some levels but idealistic. A surprising thing to hear given the traditional relationship between downforce and straight-line speed.

However, the overall focus on politics and in-fighting in Formula 1 combined with the Brawn GP’s own battle for survival and securing the future is interesting, and is the most unique part of the package compared to the actual racing.

The race edits and narrations are fairly numbers, and while nowhere near the level of “creative” editing that Drive to Survive is often criticized for, there were a few rough moments in the story. The race was previewed.

An example that stands out in particular is the combination of the audio track conveying that “Button is only a second and a half away from Vettel” and the visuals showing Button as clearly Much further down the road.

Among other moments that could perhaps be fixed in the editing are some unnatural audio clips and questionable bits of supposed lore for a product clearly intended to appeal to newbies – such as the sudden mention of Max Mosley as a name without any context before it’s later made clear who Max Mosley is.

Mosley unsurprisingly plays a major role in the documentary, but after his death in 2021, he was mostly present through footage of an old BBC interview with former Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey.

But the other key figures (not just from Brawn GP, ​​although it is very important that the series made use of a fair number of employees and was not limited to Brawn and Fry) are all here for interviews – except perhaps for the absence of one driver that seems very conspicuous When you look at the 2009 rankings.

Well, you probably can’t get them all even when they’re from Disney. The list of strong interviews, headlined by particularly entertaining turns by Christian Horner (not surprisingly, though your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoyed him in DtS), Luca di Montezemolo, and yes, Bernie Ecclestone, also reveals another surprising strength – Reeves.

Reeves, a long-time bankable Hollywood star and anchor of multi-million-dollar franchises like The Matrix and John Wick, wasn’t always the industry’s most popular leading man. It’s easy to make fun of his own mannerisms in his calling card roles, even if they are affectionate, and it probably didn’t help that one of his first trilogy roles was famously in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where every scene was him and, specifically, could be His bewildered accent is very much present accompanied by a laugh track (sorry, Keanu).

But he’s definitely been re-evaluated in the last decade or so, largely because people really like him – his special screen presence, his warm and kind personality.

But what makes Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story tick isn’t any of this so much as Reeves’ obvious enthusiasm and engaging interview style.

Reeves is on record as a Formula 1 fan, and while you find yourself questioning the on-screen action at times, with a ‘but how much are you actually doing?’ Known About this, Mr. Hollywood Man? This in the end doesn’t really matter.

As an interviewer, Reeves seems completely in his element. One scene in which he encourages Di Montezemolo is real, but it’s part of a broader pattern of Reeves being willing.

There’s only one instance across the four episodes where someone from the production team interjects with a well-timed off-screen question – and rather than interrupting the immersion, it’s strangely helpful, contributing to the feeling that this is truly a Keanu Reeves-esque film. A journey into a fantastic F1 season rather than a set of strictly scripted chats covering pre-agreed talking points.

Ultimately, Reeves finishes off the thread that anchors the material and offers something of a unique, relatable selling point when the show finds itself reaching for an all-too-familiar sports doc notes.

Reeves aside, the end result is about what you’d expect – which is a good thing, too. Whether it’s worth the price of admission to some form of Disney subscription is a very circumstantial question — as far as Disney+ productions go, it’s not exactly the game-changing masterpiece that Andor — but if you’re already considering one of these proposals, its presence can be a valuable “swing vote.” It is definitely worth the time commitment.

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