The true American dream? A former Marine turned bankrupt pizzeria owner invents the modern-day bulletproof vest, and to prove its functionality, he shoots himself almost 200 times.
Sundance documentary “2nd Chance” is directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger,” “Chop Shop”) and charts the rise and fall of Richard Davis, the creator of the bulletproof vest. A hero to police and the military until tragedy brought him down, Davis offers an American story of guns, violence, lies and self-deception, the official synopsis reads. Starting back in the 1970s, Davis was viewed as an eccentric revolutionary whose decades-spanning career in weaponry culminated in self-taped videos (“Second Chance vs. Magnum Force” was already featured on RedLetterMedia’s “Best of the Worst”) and the pursuit of larger-than-life celebrity, especially among police.
“Initially when I had heard about it, I thought it was going to be a typical rise and fall story that had a moral,” writer-director Bahrani told IndieWire earlier this year. “In a way like Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons,’ I thought that’s the direction the documentary was going to be heading. But when I went to film with Richard in Michigan, this story started to evolve and take a different shape and form.”
Bahrani continued of the larger-than-life Davis, “It’s really not clear to me which of these deceptions he believes actually now, or which of them he believes for our presentation together. I’m not sure. There were certain areas where I was hoping Richard would reveal himself in some more emotional way. I don’t think it was that he didn’t want to, I just think his character in mind doesn’t work that way. So then it was really turning to the people around him that would help us understand Richard and everything he created.”
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote in his review of the documentary, “To Bahrani, Davis is a caricature of the false altruism that dignifies the American experiment: ‘What makes a man risk his own life in order to save thousands of people, only to put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk?'”
Bahrani writes, directs, and produces the feature, with Daniel Turcan and Johnny Galvin of Vespucci, and Charles Dorfman and Jacob Grodnik also serving as producers. The film is executive produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Act of Killing,” “The Look of Silence”), plus Myles Estey, Bahareh Azimi, and Marlon Vogelgesang. Fifth Season and Samuel Marshall Films produce and finance the film.
“2nd Chance” debuts at the Village East by Angelika and Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan in New York, and the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown and AMC Burbank 16 in Los Angeles on December 2. “2nd Chance” premieres in theaters December 2 in Los Angeles and New York, with a wider release December 9. It will premiere on Showtime in spring 2023.
Check out the trailer below.