Review: ‘The Ride,’ more like ‘The Crash’

With a screenplay that included writing by University of Minnesota alum Jack Reher, “The Ride” shows the life of John Buultjens in a half-hearted way.

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Emalyn Muzzy, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

“The Ride,” now streaming on Amazon Prime, tried its best to show the heartwarming character development of a white supremacist learning to be a good person, but the message got lost by trying to fit several storylines into one movie.

“The Ride” was written in part by University of Minnesota alum Jack Reher and is based on the life of famous BMX rider John Buultjens.

To kick things off, John McCord, played by Shane Graham, is sent to a juvenile detention center at the age of seven after attempting to kill his abusive father. In addition to an abusive household, his friends were all white supremacists, ingraining hateful rhetoric in him from a young age.

In high school, after John leaves juvie, Marianna and Eldridge Buultjens, a biracial couple, foster him. His foster dad being a Black man troubles John at first, but as his character grows throughout the movie, he overcomes his racist tendencies and loves his foster dad for who he is.

After the Buultjens adopt him, Eldridge gives John a bike, and John begins learning BMX tricks. He eventually goes on to win a national BMX competition.

The movie is filled with moments of growth from John, both as a BMX rider and as a person. As the movie goes along, we see Eldridge and Marianna step into their roles as parents and figure out how to raise a child who came from an abusive household.

These two storylines are great on their own, but when combined, the movie feels rushed. Because they had to spend time on John getting closer with his family but also learning BMX tricks, the writers never fully developed either narrative.

While the writers certainly had good intentions for this film, it comes off as tone deaf at moments. John was raised by white supremacists, but in three short months, he’s able to forget everything he’s taught — a vast oversimplification of what it’s like to unlearn racism.

Oversimplification is a theme throughout the movie. John learns dangerous BMX tricks seemingly overnight and with little training. The struggles of a troubled teen settling into life with a new family are barely shown, and whatever childhood trauma John endured is forgotten.

At one point in the film, John’s white supremacist childhood friends are shown living in a run-down shack filled with confederate flags. By playing into stereotypes about what racist people look like, the movie creates a dangerous idea of white supremacy, seeing as racism often comes in many different forms.

It shows John going from the extreme side of white supremacy to accepting people of color and ignores everything in between. It creates a binary of racist and non-racist that glides over casual acts of racism from generally ordinary people.

One thing the movie had right was the music. The score ranges from pessimistic during John’s childhood to hopeful as John works his way through BMX riding and ends with a heroic tune as John hits the final jump in the movie.

What had all the potential for a truly moving and honest film falls flat as the director rushes through the story and glosses over important details.

Grade: C