Movie Review – ‘The Longest Ride’

The Longest Ride

This latest film, adapted from author Nicholas Sparks’ #1 bestselling page-turner, will be labeled a “Chick Flick” by most. However, that simple categorization would be short-changing this movie’s wider appeal, reaching even those carrying both the X and Y chromosomes. Sparks’ novels may be romantic catnip to female readers, but this film version of “The Longest Ride” packs enough compelling rodeo action from Clint Eastwood’s offspring, as well as interesting subplots, to hold the attention of all moviegoers—regardless of one’s gender.

Scott Eastwood stars as a professional bull rider, Luke Collins, a former PBR champion set on making a comeback on the rodeo circuit and reclaiming his #1 world ranking. Competing for Eastwood’s attention and some action are Sophia (Brittany Robertson), a Wake Forest senior beauty, and Rango, a 2,500-pound Brahma bull. The self-proclaimed “Toughest Sport on Dirt” is now even more difficult for Eastwood’s Collins character.

The Longest Ride2Director George Tillman Jr., wisely using author Sparks as the film’s writer and producer, successfully makes “The Longest Ride” about one’s love of life and career. Both passions come across the big-screen as genuine and intriguing. The film also manages to juggle two parallel love stories—the newer, enticing appeal of a rodeo star meeting his potential soul mate, and an older, toughened relationship starring Alan Alda who describes–through love letters since the 1940s–how his courtship with his late wife withstood the test of time.

The movie is able to connect and sell both of these romantic stories through solid, authentic chemistry between the stars. Both Eastwood and Robertson are brilliantly cast—riding their budding romance with a steady heat that goes well beyond the 8-seconds required in PBR scoring. Likewise, Alda effortlessly appears as the elder matchmaker, offering young Sophia the keepsake advice that “love requires sacrifice”.

The film’s greatest strength is the realism it provides of the professional bull rider’s life. Eastwood comes across as very believable atop the dangerous, wild beasts. Part of this is due to his upbringing around riding, but mostly it reflects his understudy of two-time World Champion Justin McBride for this role. To anyone who has seen Eastwood’s post-filming, viral YouTube bull riding session, it’s apparent the real-life son of Dirty Harry doesn’t sidestep risks. Additionally, the film’s super, slow-motion cinematography captures the bull riding peril frame-by-frame, offering audiences an up-close and personal look at rodeo cowboys. All of which makes “The Longest Ride” a perfect Date Night movie event.

Grade: B+

“The Longest Ride” is rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action.  It’s running time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.

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