You’ll probably like Chasing Great if you’re an All Blacks fan, a Richie McCaw fan or a rugby fan. For those who know little to nothing, you’ll probably leave feeling a bit confused.
Walking out the cinema, I felt like I’d just watched a game of rugby which ended in a draw.
The retired All Blacks captain, teammate, pilot, glider, chef, cryptic crossword enthusiast, family member, fiancée and friend has certainly done some very impressive things in his time. You can’t take away from what he has managed to do on the rugby field, while maintaining a perfect track record off of it. That is commendable. In the film’s candid interviews, we see how incredibly motivated McCaw is. Youngsters who go and see the film will leave inspired to get out and achieve.
This film doesn’t quite make the pass mark because of two things.
First, there’s so much more to the Richie McCaw story than his last year of professional rugby. And for much of the movie, we’re speeding past it, trying to just grasp for a moment what it all meant. We see him gliding but he never says that it’s something he has been passionate about since his teenage years. He has made some smart investments off the field, but again that’s left out. We see a bit of his parents, fiancée Gemma Flynn and friends but mostly in brief, passing moments.
There aren’t any glimpses into what he says during team talks, his insights in senior player meetings or anything else which hasn’t been showcased before.
Second and I’ve spoken with plenty of people about this: Is Richie really that interesting? People who have achieved a lot don’t always make the most interesting people. Even though the filmmakers do a great job at weaving together the narrative of McCaw’s life in a non-linear fashion, they can’t turn the steak and potatoes captain into one of the Hitchens brothers. Nor could they successfully cram all his achievements in with the time at their disposal.The way in which he communicates here is quite different to his memoir The Open Side, which is riddled with swearing and blunt one liners.
This definitely would have been far better as a miniseries but even then, the interesting question would remain.