McLaren review – motor-racing film only for petrolheads – The Guardian

Roger Donaldson’s documentary about motor-racing pioneer Bruce McLaren is well produced, well researched, well intended … and a bit boring. It makes no serious attempt at reaching out beyond its fanbase, connecting with non-petrolheads, or gaining any perspective on the sometimes scary and dysfunctional world of motor racing. It just celebrates McLaren in a good-natured, bland and slightly complacent way, with newsreel clips, artfully presented stills, interviews with beaming contemporaries and some unsignposted dramatic reconstruction: mock-Super-8 footage imagining key scenes of his early life. In some ways, McLaren’s straightforwardly pleasant personality is refreshing; unlike the raffish bad boys who always get mythologised, he was an unassuming professional and a family man. A class act. But why should we be interested in him, beyond the races won and race cars designed? The film points out that, as a child, he was confined through illness to a mobile hospital bed which was kitted out with wheels and, yes, did look like a race car. When McLaren died in the inevitable accident, his team swallowed their tears and soldiered on almost immediately – just as McLaren himself had done when his teammate Tim Mayer died in a crash. But the film never reflects on this, never wonders about the dangers of racing or what it means. A film like Asif Kapadia’s Senna was more curious about this – and more passionate. This is for completist fans only.

McLaren official film trailer

McLaren review – motor-racing film only for petrolheads – The Guardian

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