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‘Take Every Wave’: Dazzling surfing shots


“Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton” doesn’t exactly wade deep into the psyche of the renowned surfer, but his spectacularly filmed exploits on the water are awfully fun to watch, even for those not immersed in the sport.

Director Rory Kennedy scores extensive interviews with Hamilton, whose surfboard innovations have allowed surfers to ride the biggest of waves. But her subject — still in great shape after almost five decades of abuse from the punishing waters — often remains inscrutable, even in those infrequent moments when he talks about his marriage, his upbringing and his former surfing fraternity. Most of the revealing tidbits come from his wife, former volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, or from ex-pals who, unlike Hamilton, weren’t able to cash in on their surfing accomplishments.

Yet despite an aura of superficiality that hovers over this portrait of an athlete, “Take Every Wave” remains entertaining because of Hamilton’s awe-inducing skill on the ocean, and his determination to ride the waves as long as his body will allow. This is a man who has an intimate relationship with the waters, perhaps more intimate than with most of the humans who surround him.

One distinction for Hamilton is that he changed a sport even though he didn’t compete in it professionally. And we can’t help but be dazzled as we watch him conquer a massive “Jaws” wave in Maui and an even bigger wave in Tahiti. Kennedy saves the best for last, a beautifully photographed drone shot of Hamilton riding the waves. We feel that we are right there with him, and for the first time, experience his enthralling union with the waters.

David Lewis is a San Francisco freelance writer.


Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton

ALERT VIEWERDocumentary. With Laird Hamilton. (Not rated. 118 minutes.)



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