Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Review: IED (Improve Every Day)

Release date: May 12, 2020
Running time: 59 minutes
Starring: Steven ‘Stevie’ Richardson, Kenny Simm

Stevie Richardson was a British soldier deployed in Afghanistan.  One day, while looking for IEDs, he unfortunately was caught in a blast that cost him both legs, half of a hand, and several fingers.  After recovering from this horrible attack and separating from the Army, Stevie decides to train his body and mind by entering a competitive strongman competition.  And with the help of former Royal Marines Commando Kenny Simm, he trains to tackle his next big challenge. 

IED is an absolutely inspiring documentary about one man's drive and determination despite a ton of adversity.  No one would fault Stevie for simply retreating into himself after suffering such horrible injuries, but Stevie decides to push himself further physically and mentally.  Seeing him commit himself to training despite everything he has been through is truly an inspiring sight.  The film highlights Stevie's journey and it does a good job of showing the struggles that he is going through and the adversity he faced.  It also is a surprisingly raw, unfiltered film.  Part of this is due to the individuals involved.  The strong men do not mince words and tend to say how they are feeling.  However, this leads to some vulnerabilities you wouldn't expect from their gruff exteriors, and I commend both Stevie, Kenny, and the filmmakers for including these observations in the film.  It is refreshing to see such tough characters discuss their own insecurities and issues that they might be facing.  

However, IED feels a little unfinished.  It doesn't have enough backstory for Stevie and what led to his horrible injury.  It is explained, but I would have liked to see more of his background and experiences before losing his legs and hand.  It also feels like the documentary is too short and could use some more on the tail end to pull all of Stevie's training together.  I would have loved to see more about his life after the strongman competition and what else he is involved in.  It would have also been good to see more of his progression as he starts out essentially ready for the competition.  And the short duration feels more like something that was made for a TV special rather than a full fledged film, which I think is the actual backstory of this movie.  Those looking for bang for their buck might want to either rent or wait for the movie to go on sale.

But the film does have a ton of heart.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is that it shows how supportive the whole community is.  Even though these people are competing, they are cheering each other on and trying to push each other to do better both physically and mentally.  

IED is an inspiring documentary about perseverance, drive, and never giving up.  It has plenty of raw physical strength and a surprising amount of vulnerability and will lift your body and spirits. 

Rent it.
For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out here.

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