Bode Merrill, Reckless Abandon

words: Pat Bridges

photos: E-Stone, Oli Gagnon, T. Bird and Mary Walsh

Bode Merril

Bode. p: T. Bird

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill. p: E-Stone

The Fourth Phase World Premiere

Chris Grenier, Salomon Global Marketing Communications Manager Greg Covello, and Scotty Arnold. p: T. Bird

This fall, as frothing riders look at the shred cinema landscape and peruse the parade of trick porn created in the notion that aspirational images cascading across the screen will inspire the masses to strap in and throw down, one film with its seemingly immortal protagonist rises above the rest to be more than merely a movie of the year contender, but perhaps the best snowboarding signature showcase since the genre was created with ‘Subjekt Haakonsen’ in 1995! Bode Merrill’s ‘Reckless Abandon’ renews faith in a motif that has become more of an indulgent celebration of a rider’s elevated status than a true vehicle for showcasing the singular talents of our sport’s most elite icons. Putting ‘Reckless Abandon’ in the same league as ‘Subjekt Haakonsen’ may seem hyperbolic to the 'Terje is God' faithful, but the comparisons between these two movies are justified. Twenty years ago, Haakon partnered with Dave Seoane to spend a few weeks filming and sending it in Riksgransen, Sweden, Methven, New Zealand and Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the result was an engaging, surreal and somewhat casual glance at a man whose abilities were on a whole different level than his peers. As much as supporting players like Bryan Iguchi, Johan Olofsson and Daniel Franck raised their own game for ‘Subjekt’, they ultimately still couldn’t match the raw talent of Terje, which Seoane was able to frame up perfectly. Reviews of ‘Subjekt Haakonsen’ at the time betrayed its lasting influence because the riding was so advanced that it would take several years for Terje’s NBD tricks to start being named, contextualized and imitated.

Jon Ray

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So here we are in 2016 and Shaun White, Todd Richards, Jake Blauvelt, Tara Dakides, David Benedek, Pat Moore, Craig Kelly, Kevin Jones, Gigi Rüf, Mark McMorris, Torstein Horgmo, Nicolas Müller and Eero Ettala have all spearheaded their own signature movies. Whether they admit it or not, all have aspired to capture the same cinematic lightning in a bottle that Terje and Seoane were able to conjure so many years ago, yet the results of these endeavors has been inconsistent, with none matching the impact or influence of ‘Subjekt’. Even an attempt to get the band back together with ‘Haakon Faktor’ proved that even Terje and Dave couldn’t tap into that same Sprocking Cat magic again.

Hans Mindnich

Hans Mindnich. p: E-Stone

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill. p: Oli Gagnon

Jesse Paul

Jesse Paul. p: Oli Gagnon

Erik Leon

Erik Leon. p: E-Stone

Ozzy Henning

All things considered, ‘The Art Of Flight’ is deserving of a place in the signature project hall of fame. Flight has the incomprehensible action, superhuman star in Travis Rice and bar-raising impact akin to Terje and ‘Subjekt’. Interestingly, the follow up to ‘The Art Of Flight’, ‘The Fourth Phase’, released this fall, gets high marks for inspiring its audience, elevating the exposure of its key players and striving to do so in an impressive and entertaining package but it lacks the era-defining action of ‘Subjekt’ or ‘The Art Of Flight’. It is the latter characteristic that Bode Merrill and ‘Reckless Abandon’ deliver tenfold.

Jon Ray

Yet, ‘Reckless Abandon’ is more than merely a vehicle for Bode’s ambition. Handpicked by Merrill, ‘Reckless’ also showcases the style and skill of Ozzy Henning, Erik Leon, Jesse Paul and Hans Mindnich. More than mere supporting players, ‘Reckless’ marks the arrival of these four riders on the verge in a very big way with each one having a chance to shine and at times, even one up the man at the top of the marquee himself. Jesse Paul in particular puts on a Rookie Of The Year-worthy performance with what will likely be some of the most talked about tricks of the season. The auteur tasked with taking Bode’s vision from the barstool to the big screen was Jon Ray, who, like Ozzy, Erik, Jesse and Hans, rose to the opportunity and made sure that the aesthetic was as compelling as the action.

Hans Mindnich

Hans Mindnich. p: E-Stone

Reckless Abandon

The crew in Japan. p: E-Stone

Ben Ferguson

Bode Merrill. p: Oli Gagnon

Gallery

Erik Leon

Erik Leon. p: E-Stone

Mike Ravelson

Christian Builing, Davidaisy, and Mike Ravelson. p: Walsh

Jon Ray

Oh hi, Jon Ray. p: E-Stone

Rather than filling a conventional part-based timeline, 'Reckless' utilizes a travel-based narrative. This approach is rife with pitfalls given the uncertainty of conditions and timing but Bode and Jon pull it off without a hitch. Park City and Salt Lake City seamlessly transition into a Japan pow exposé, leading to a Minneapolis rail annihilation montage followed with a Utah and Wyoming kicker collage culminating with a dramatic AK mission that injects a healthy reminder that a death-defying regimen does have its limits. And just when you think there is nothing left for Bode to do in the 'never been done' arena, Jon and Bode finish Reckless Abandon off on an even higher note.

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill. p: E-Stone

Jesse Paul

Jesse Paul. p: E-Stone

Bode Merrill, Reckless Abandon

These guys made one hell of a movie. p: T. Bird

Perhaps the piece of the ‘Reckless’ puzzle that makes it so resonant isn’t in its grandeur, because, after all, how many of us can truly relate to tricking over a 60-foot backcountry stepdown or pointing it at a feature full speed with your back foot unstrapped? Quite possibly the most endearing aspect of ‘Reckless Abandon’ comes as an accouterment to the hit parade where a snow covered street becomes a canvas for a string of four relatable setup tricks or when Bode and company high five after surviving a particularly ground breaking session. Their stoke transcends the screen to the viewer and in turn, is almost as inspiring as anything stomped for the cameras.

Cheers to Bode Merrill, Jon Ray, Jesse Paul, Hans Mindnich, Erik Leon and Ozzy Henning for coming together to create something that is neither reckless nor will be abandoned any time soon.

The Snowboarder Movie

Bode Merrill. p: Scotty Arnold