Along for the Ride

Surfing cinematography soars, but film weighed down 
by overly dramatic script

Brothers Jimmy (Xavier Samuel, right) and Andy Kelly (Myles Pollard) have their own ideas of what they want out 
of a surf shop in Western Australia. 
Wrekin Hill Entertainment

Starring: Myles Pollard, Xavier Samuel, Sam Worthington, Lesley-Ann Brandt

Directed by: Ben Nott, Morgan O'Neill

Stars: 2 1/2 out of 4

Rating: R

"Point Break" (1991): This film has all the aspects of an adrenaline junkie's dream with surfing, skydiving and bank robbing. Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves add star power to a film that will get you hooked.

"Lords of Dogtown" (2005): The film shows the skateboarding revolution of the '70s through the eyes of the surfing trio of Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacey Peralta. Full of skateboarding action and plenty of drama, it shows Skip Engblom's breakdown as he loses control of the Z Boys, and the life choices the skating pioneers make.

"Soul Surfer" (2011): The inspirational biopic tells of Bethany Hamilton overcoming an attack by a tiger shark. AnnaSophia Robb plays Hamilton, who dealt with the challenges of losing her left arm while fighting for her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

"Chasing Mavericks" (2012): Surfer Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) takes on the waves at sweet spot Mavericks, and Gerard Butler plays mentor Richard "Frosty" Hesson in a film that's full of clichés but short on story. Plenty of good surfing is seen in the inspirational film immortalizing Moriarity, who died free diving in the Indian Ocean at Maldives in 2001.

"The Drifter" (2009): This autobiographical film chronicles the life of world-traveling surfer Rob Machado, who left the ASP World Tour to take a break. It's a pleasant ride to watch one of the world's best surfers do what he loves: surf and travel to exotic locations.

Embodying the early 1970s short board revolution, the film "Drift" tries to incorporate all the conflicts that come with starting a surfboard company out of your back shed.

The cinematography of the surfing action should keep viewers on board, though the plot proves too shallow.

Co-directed by Morgan O'Neil and Ben Nott, "Drift" follows two brothers, each with their own idea of what they want out of a surf shop in Western Australia.

In the fictional small town of Seacliffe where farmers and factory workers are the driving force, Andrew Kelly (Australian actor/surfer Myles Pollard) sees where his factory lumber job is going and decides it's time for a change.

With the help of his talented younger brother Jimmy (Xavier Samuel), who helps shape the boards and attracts attention through his surfing, Andrew sees their potential.

"There's a whole bunch of people there waiting to surf better because of our gear," Andrew says. "We could be shaping a much bigger future here."

"I'm just shaping surfboards, brother," Jimmy says. "That's all I'm doing."

The film takes off at the start and keeps a fast pace, leaving character development minimal.

In an effort to beef up the plot, drugs are introduced by traveling surf photographer JB (Australian actor/surfer Sam Worthington; "Avatar," "Terminator Salvation"). JB, who cracks open the tail of his board to reveal Indonesian hash, foreshadows a more significant conflict.

Traveling with JB is Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt), who adds romantic tension as a love interest for both brothers with her Hawaiian good looks and attitude.

Once Andrew gets everything in order for the shop, cops make their presence known, after rumors of drug smuggling spread.

The plot lacks punch, but the surfing footage delivers some "wow" moments of authenticity, because the actors did their own surfing.

Though based on actual events, the details raise eyebrows from those knowledgeable of the Australian surfing history. The '70s setting in Western Australia doesn't sync with the heroin problem, which was common on the East Coast.

In an interview with The Australian, Pollard called the film a "fictionalized soup of the myths of the time."

Worthington said the filmmakers couldn't specify the board-shaping company for fear of being sued.

"You can say it was based on true events. Big companies that we know did actually start in backyards," Worthington said, according to The Australian. "There was [sic] boys who were transporting drugs from Indo [Indonesia]. There was a bunch of fucking people seen as on the fringe and the mainstream didn't accept them. That's the kind of series of actual events that we've based it on."

Though the filmmakers aren't naming names, "Drift" will take you back to the 1970s with the vintage boards, clothing and atmosphere that were popular in that surfing culture. 

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