Ride the Eagle Image

Ride the Eagle

By Alex Saveliev | November 25, 2021

What’s most appealing about Ride the Eagle is its confidence. It’s not in a rush to get to its revelatory ending, and it doesn’t care that it’s a bit rough around the edges. Again, in that sense, it perfectly reflects its star. Johnson appears in every shot, and he’s a marvel, radiating charisma, unafraid to be insecure, portraying a plethora of emotions with nuance and sensitivity. His interplay with Carden, despite consisting entirely of phone conversations, sparks.

In an ingenious move, the filmmakers brought in Susan Sarandon for what must’ve amounted to 15 minutes of shooting. Yet her poignant performance is sparsed out through the plot (via the tapes), making it seem like she’s there, by Leif’s side, and the actor leaves a lasting impression. The similarly always-reliable J.K. Simmons nails his extended cameo with a perfect balance of razor-sharp comic timing and heart-shredding pathos.

“…[Johnson is] a marvel, radiating charisma…”

The gentle mix of humor and existential reflection brings to mind films like Tom McCarthy’s equally minimalist The Station Agent. Although not quite reaching the heights of that classic, Ride the Eagle comes close, the script crammed with memorable moments. “Why so many cabinets?” Leif inquires out loud, as he finds more bags of weed. “What the f**k is with your aggressive compliments?” Leif asks Carl after being called a “f**k-boy,” “sugar dick,” and “candy a*s” by the embittered man. Phone sex with Audrey is ruined when overalls come into play. And then there’s the highlight: Leif reporting his missing dog (“They’re not my rabbits!”), which had me burst out laughing.

Complemented by absolutely gorgeous on-location cinematography, Ride the Eagle may not be perfect, but it’s balm to the soul, especially if you’ve recently lost a parent. It’s kind and sensitive but never pandering. Don’t be fooled by the initial familiarity of it all. Give it a chance, and the film, along with Johnson’s performance, will sneak up on you.

Ride the Eagle (2021)

Directed: Trent O'Donnell

Written: Jake Johnson, Trent O'Donnell

Starring: Jake Johnson, D'Arcy Carden, J.K. Simmons, Susan Sarandon, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Ride the Eagle Image

"…a balm to the soul..."

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