The Game Changers, directed by Louie Psihoyos and executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenneger, and Jackie Chan, among others, is a new documentary about a revolutionary trend going on in the field of competitive sports. Ultimately serving more as propaganda than anything else, this film is relatively sloppy but manages to get its message across regardless.
The movie follows UFC fighter James Wilks as he investigates the idea of consuming a vegan diet as a professional athlete by talking with athletes who have adopted that approach and experts in the field of nutrition to support his claim. Although the argument that Wilks and the filmmakers make is compelling, the evidence is drawn from too many areas and sources for the movie to be concise and effective.
Since Wilks is an athlete, the athletic angle supporting veganism makes sense to be included in the film. Some of the most interesting parts of the movie are interviews with leading vegan athletes as they give testimonials as to why their vegan diet has helped increase their athletic performance. Granted, the average viewer is least likely to identify with this element of the story, but it is the most logical part of the narrative given the movie’s context.
The aspects of the film addressing the health benefits of a vegan diet are also quite interesting. In one sequence, a scientist tests the blood from three athletes over a period of days after they eat burritos made with different proteins. Even though the findings likely won’t surprise you given the agenda the movie has, this process and the way in which the results are discussed is still fascinating.
However, other evidence which the film hopes to give in support of a vegan lifestyle does not land as effectively. One segment of the movie addresses increased sexual performance resulting from a vegan diet. While this information is something that is likely unknown by a majority of the audience, this portion of the film is not as well-developed as the others. Much of this sequence is comprised of the test subjects reacting awkwardly to hearing about their erections.
The movie also attempts to address the environmental and ethical issues involved with meat-based diets, and quite simply, there is too much going on in the film for this to be included. Other movies have already discussed this part of the issue in a deeper and more satisfying way, so this film feels underdeveloped and useless in this regard.
On a technical level, the movie is mostly solid, shot in a way to make the film as accessible to a mainstream crowd as possible. After all, the main purpose of this movie seems to be to convince people to convert to a vegan lifestyle, and the film’s energetic editing, inspired music cues, and interviews with well-known athletes will go a long way in making the movie more entertaining for the masses.
The untrained eye may be convinced by the wealth of information The Game Changers has on the benefits of the vegan lifestyle. However, the seasoned documentary viewer will realize that much of this is simply flash. Though much of the information presented is valid, it is presented in a way that feels manipulative and propaganda-like, so one cannot know who to trust.
The Game Changers opens in theaters on September 20.