The participants in this daredevil group of wannabe Evel Knievel stunt driver buddies are quite familiar to MTV audiences who seem to enjoy their subversive, death-defying antics. But, for others, the adrenaline-fueled jeopardy of these self-indulgent, overgrown children grows tedious very quickly, even when Johnny “Jackass” Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and Channing Tatum make guest appearances.
Nitro Circus is a self-described “action sport collective,” led by Travis Pastrana, who is usually the first to attempt stunts that involve dirt bikes or BMX bikes. Greg Powell (a.k.a. Special Greg) is Pastrana’s cousin, a former wide receiver on the University of Maryland football team (2003-2006) and the first person to land a “Special Flip” on a BMX bike. Jim DeChamp is a pro mountain bike downhill racer and freestyle rider who has been friends with Pastrana since childhood; during the filming, he suffered a serious back injury from which he has since recovered. Tommy Passermante (a.k.a. Streetbike Tommy) got his nickname from an attempted front-flip on his Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle that overshot the protective foam pit, resulting in his breaking both legs. Erik Roner is a pro extreme skier and base jumper who’s always the first to try any stunt that involves snow. Suffering from spina bifida, Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham is a wheelchair athlete, while the fair sex is represented by curvaceous Canadian Female Motorcross Champion Jolene Van Vugt, who performs one tricycle stunt and is a passenger on another.
Photographed by Donny Anderson and directed by Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle, this documentary chronicles their staging of a live Nitro Circus stage show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and, when American law enforcement tries to restrict their carefree capers, they escape to Panama City, where they speed a motorcycle across a hotel pool into the ocean and leap from the rooftop of one 400-foot skyscraper to an adjoining apartment building.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D” is an exhausting, repetitively reckless 3. Better to watch it – free – on MTV or elsewhere.