The ambition of the proverbial “American Dream” has always played a role with innovation in the USA. Whether the innovation has benefited society or not is up to the eyes of the beholder. Entrepreneur Richard Davis was on his last legs as a pizzeria owner. The “American Dream” is a never ending cycle of the snake eating its own tail, and thus Richard Davis had to move on. His next venture? The creation of the modern bullet proof vest through his new company (which is also the namesake of the film itself) Second Chance (2nd Chance).
2nd Chance is a documentary from acclaimed filmmaker, Ramin Bahrani, about the rise and fall of Richard Davis. He was passionate about the safety and preservation of the American police officer. Therefore, he created the bullet proof vest with the police officer in mind. To test the vests, he shot himself – point blank – 192 times. He would also create short films that were dramatic interpretations of an instance where a police officer survived a gun shot due to the bullet proof vest. Davis would go on to immense success, even receiving a contract from the United States government to supply bullet proof vests for soldiers during the Iraq war. Success ran rampant until mistake after mistake brought all of the Second Chance corporation down.
As insane as most of the events that transpired may seem, there’s a sense of sincerity for the material. At no point does the documentary present anyone to appear as unhinged or crazy. The film displays all this through an unbiased lens. An admirable effort on the creators part. Even during scenes where points of scrutiny is presented – such as the “UAP” or, Unorganized Asshole Punks, to describe left leaning individuals – is presented in a historical context.
One issue that plagues most documentaries is its inability to creatively tell a story while being informative. Ramin Bahrani and the rest of the crew create a well paced documentary that ramps up until the very last second. Moreover, offering tons of relevant information while making it thoroughly enjoyable. Additionally, the supporting videos that only 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.
Richard Davis is a lot to take in. From the opening moments of the documentary (even the featured image of this review) you can tell he’s in his own world. As the documentary progresses it’s possible you become fatigued by his presence. But, given the relatively short runtime, you never feel withdrawn from the material. In fact, near the end, the attention pivots to a situation that was presented early on in the doc that didn’t pertain to Davis. The segment itself being a cathartic ending to this documentary.
The prospect of a documentary about a gun-loving, police praising, insufferable man could drive most people away. However, this little bite into the life of Richard Davis is a well-rounded experience that shouldn’t be missed. Excellent filmmaking is constantly on display throughout. Moreover, the enthralling events within will keep you hanging on to the edge of your seat. Although the prospect of the “American Dream” may be cause for an eye roll, this documentary about an dangerously advantageous individual may put a smile on your face. – Jacob Mauceri
‘2nd Chance’ is pending a wide release date. For more Sundance 2022 coverage, keep an eye on our Twitter page and this site!