Review by James Lindorf
OPS Films and Academy Award-Winning Director Louie Psihoyos (The Cove, Racing Extinction) are back hoping to inspire the world to change again with The Game Changers. Their first film profiled Ric O’Barry, the dolphin-trainer-turned-activist whose story helped reduce the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Then, there was Shawn Heinrichs and Paul Hilton, whose undercover work helped prevent endangered species from entering the U.S.. For their third film, they turned to James “Lightning” Wilks, an elite military trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter. After suffering an injury, Wilks went in search of the best diet to optimize his recovery. What started as a personal journey on his couch with bags of ice and medical journals turned into a globetrotting adventure to change everything, we know about plant-based diets. The Game Changers will have a nationwide Fathom event on September 16th before opening in New York and L.A. on September 20th.
OPS Films put together an elite team of producers including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul. The Game Changers features appearances by Schwarzenegger, Olympic silver medal-winning cyclist Dotsie Bausch, world record-holding strongman Patrik Baboumian, ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek and over a dozen medical and scientific experts. With narration by Wilks, this is a beautifully crafted documentary about the potential benefits of switching to a vegan diet.
Due to social stigma, words like vegan are seldom used in the film, but it is clear that in their mind, the only way to live your best life is to live as a vegan. They succinctly state their case with anecdotal and clinical evidence leaving little doubt that plants trump meats. They even manage to do it without sounding like they use the tin foil from doggy bags to fashion new headwear. The only question that remains is whether the data presented can withstand criticism from other experts.
The biggest fault of the film is that it is too heavily geared towards men. That may have been a conscious decision to counteract the decades of advertising that say real men eat meat. However, it still does nothing to speak to half of the world’s population specifically. The second most significant issue is the use of Wilks as the narrator. While this may have started with him and he is knowledgeable and passionate, he is not an actor, and his delivery tends to be a bit underwhelming. Despite a couple of superficial flaws, The Game Changers is a powerful documentary. The all or nothing message will cause many people to change their lifestyle and the rest dig in their heels.
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