Walk. Ride. Rodeo is an inspiring story that should not be ignored, but unfortunately, the film does not do it justice.
I guess all I expected when I read the premise for Netflix film Walk. Ride. Rodeo was a sweet, emotional story about a young woman defying the odds to become a rodeo barrel racer at a national level after a horrific car crash. And that’s all you get in reality. We’ve seen it all before in many forms and directions; a sportsperson suffers a life-changing injury, and they adjust their perspective to compete again. In this case, Amberley Snyder (Spencer Locke) has to get back on that saddle.
Before you delve into the film, the story is based on reality. Walk. Ride. Rodeo makes a hammering point about it at the start with the giant words emblazoned across the screen, “based on the incredible true story”. Yes, incredible. And with a statement like that, you can only expect to be blown away by what is coming.
Unfortunately, Walk. Ride. Rodeo lacks that emotional punch, that inspiring moment that makes you feel like you are about to be elevated from your chair. The Netflix film highlights the achievement; Amberly Snyder is paralysed from the waist down, so you can only imagine how difficult it would have been, mentally and physically, to get back on her favorite horse to rodeo again. The movie makes a point that her entire balance was based on her legs all her young life, so to learn a new equilibrium, and compete, is quite a feat.
But I’m not sure if it’s the way it is directed that undersells the story. It almost feels like the film makes the point in not making it all about Amberley’s perspective. The undeniable fact is her view is way more important than any other character in the story. I do not care what her mother, sister or some thirsty teenage boy who has a crush on her feels. Walk. Ride. Rodeo should be about her experiences – rather than distinguish everyone’s reactions, the story missed a trick by not just absorbing her emotions primarily.
Of course, you do get the sense of what she’s going through – you understand the pain, and her urgency to get back on the saddle, but there is a lack of feeling. Have you ever really wanted something in life but for whatever reason you cannot have it? How does that feel? S**t and empty, right? You feel none of that in Amberley’s story on the screen. I suppose the often wooden performances do not help matters – some scenes feel woefully rushed and staggered – like the cast were performing on cue rather than naturally. Walk. Ride. Rodeo missed an impactful opportunity.
I wouldn’t write-off Walk. Ride. Rodeo completely; there is a sense of achievement worth admiring, but be prepared to be disappointed by an inspiring story propped up by a watery film.