Sundance 2022: ‘2nd Chance’ review: ‘The proverbial American dream’

The ambition of the proverbial “American Dream” has always played a role in innovation in the United States. Whether or not the innovation has benefited society depends on the viewer. Entrepreneur Richard Davis was on his last legs as a pizzeria owner. The “American Dream” is an endless cycle of the snake eating its own tail, and so Richard Davis had to move on. His next adventure? The creation of the modern body armor through his new company (which is also the namesake of the film itself) Second Chance (2nd chance).

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2nd chance is a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker, Ramin Bahrani, about the rise and fall of Richard Davis. He was passionate about the safety and preservation of the American policeman. Therefore, he created the bulletproof vest with the policeman in mind. To test the vests, he killed himself – at close range – 192 times. He would also create shorts that were dramatic renditions of a case where a police officer survived a gunshot due to body armor. Davis would go on to be immensely successful, even receiving a contract from the United States government to supply body armor to soldiers during the Iraq War. The success ran until error after error, the whole Second Chance society collapsed.

As insane as most of the events that transpired may seem, there is a sense of sincerity to the material. At no point does the documentary present anyone as unhinged or crazy. The film shows all of this through an unbiased lens. An admirable effort on the part of the creators. Even during scenes where checkpoints are presented – like the “UAP” or, Unorganized Asshole Punks, to describe left-leaning individuals – is presented in historical context.

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A problem that plagues most documentaries is its inability to tell a story creatively while being informative. Ramin Bahrani and the rest of the crew create a well-paced documentary that ramps up to the very last second. Plus, offering tons of relevant information while making it very enjoyable. Plus, the supporting videos that just add to the entertainment side of the documentary only heighten the experience. 2nd chance is a meticulously crafted documentary about an individual who should have been more meticulous.

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Richard Davis has a lot to take in. From the first moments of the documentary (even the featured image of this review), you can tell he’s in his own world. As the documentary progresses, you may grow weary of his presence. But, given the relatively short runtime, you never feel pulled out of the material. In fact, towards the end, attention turns to a situation that was presented at the beginning of the document and which did not concern Davis. The segment itself being a cathartic ending to this documentary.

The prospect of a documentary about a gun-loving, police-praising, and insufferable man might scare most people away. However, this little bite into the life of Richard Davis is a complete experience not to be missed. The excellent cinema is constantly on display everywhere. Plus, the exciting events that unfold there will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. While the prospect of the “American Dream” may make you roll your eyes, this documentary about a dangerously advantageous individual may make you smile. – Jacob Mauceri

RATING: 8/10

‘2nd Chance’ is awaiting a wide release date. For more Sundance 2022 coverage, keep an eye on our Twitter and this site!


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