Published Oct 24, 2017Laird Hamilton is a modern day gladiator, a 53-year-old specimen of a man who trains like a warrior in the pursuit of one goal: to ride the world's biggest waves.
Oscar-nominated documentarian Rory Kennedy's latest film, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, tells his remarkable story through archival footage, interviews and vivid cinematography that's just itching to be shown in IMAX — because really, how else could you appreciate the strength and versatility it takes for the iconic surfer to stand up on 40-foot-plus tall ocean walls?
Take Every Wave charts his rise from teenage thug to the top ranks of his sport while flushing out the reasons why childhood abuse, trauma and the misunderstanding of his peers (Hamilton would never compete professionally and was initially discredited by surf media for adopting methods used by windsurfers, as well as being towed by jet skis into big waves) shaped him into the maverick he is today.
His life story is one filled with drama, but for the most part, he brushes off any kind of new age self-awareness (save for one scene where he discusses finding "equality in the ocean"). Perhaps because of this, Kennedy spends equal amounts of time dissecting his past as she does depicting the ways in which he continues to push his passion into the future, documenting his elite training regimen, physiotherapist visits and foil boarding — a new-ish invention that allows big wave riders like Hamilton to coast through the seas faster than ever before.
The film culminates with an extended clip of him doing just that, in a triumphant scene that separates Take Every Wave from other like-minded sports docs; Hamilton isn't a has-been, but a forward-thinker pushing the human body towards new planes of physicality. And while the mainstream surf media and hardcore fans of the nuanced sport may scoff at him, Take Every Wave proves he's an undeniable force worth the wider world's attention.