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film review

Bethany Hamilton rides a wave in a still from her bio-pic: Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable.Handout

  • Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable
  • Directed by: Aaron Lieber
  • Starring: Bethany Hamilton, Adam Dirks and Alana Blanchard
  • Classification: G; 100 minutes


2 out of 4 stars

In the earliest minutes of Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, a so-so surf documentary on a former teen prodigy who in 2003 lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark but who quickly returned to wave-riding anyway, we hear an audio clip of a wondering commentator: “I guess the obvious question is why, why get up on that board again?”

The film’s simple answer is that Hamilton lives to be there: It’s her passion and her place of healing – “somewhere,” she says, “where I can just be me.”

The obvious question one might have after watching Aaron Lieber’s slick, relentlessly inspirational bio-doc on Hamilton is similar: Why, why tell this story again? Post-attack, the Oprah-approved Hamilton became a pro-circuit surfer, reality-television specialist, celebrity Christian and the subject of the 2011 feature film Soul Surfer. This new film updates an old story – she’s now a wife and mother in addition to being a competitive athlete – but offers little in the way of twists, tension or drama. Other than keeping Hamilton’s name out there and giving her brand exposure, Unstoppable stops short of making a compelling case for itself.

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable opens across Canada on July 26.