‘Waiting for Lightning’ may leave you waiting for the best part of the story

Danny Way takes air in 'Waiting for Lightning'
Danny Way takes air in ‘Waiting for Lightning’

Waiting for Lightning is a documentary film that has an amazing tale to tell… yet does so in a rather ordinary fashion.

It is the story of a man named Danny Way.  If you’re not a skateboarding fan you still may have heard of him, because back in 2005 he did something amazing.  He jumped over the Great Wall of China on a skateboard.  As a result he is one of only three people in the history of the Great Wall to have their name written on it in gold.

But this documentary isn’t just about his jump.  It is telling the story of how Danny Way came to be in a position to attempt and make that jump.  Telling how he made himself one of the very best in the world at what he does, and how he never stops pushing himself to achieve more.

Danny Way’s story is much more complex and sadly that story is overshadowed by the nearly non-stop footage of a young Danny skating at a level far beyond his tender years.  There are interviews with important people in skating’s “who’s who”; and we are told the story of how Danny came to love skating.  How he grew up without a father, how his step-father and mother split up, and how the third and final father-figure to enter his life, Mike Ternasky, was killed in a tragic accident.

Ternasky was the mentor a young man like Way needed at just that time.  Had he lived, Way might have exceeded even the spectacular achievements of his stellar career.  However, the lack of a male influence in his life for most of his formative years made for a difficult childhood.  That he has done what he has done is a testament to his drive, internal fortitude, and the influence of his mother.

His accomplishments are the stuff of legend and the film details a number of them.  He holds the land speed record for skateboarding at nearly 75 miles per hour.  He is the only person who has ever jumped out of a helicopter on a skateboard.  Since 1990 when Thrasher Magazine began giving out its skater of the year award, only one other skater besides Danny Way has won the award twice.

But when the end credits of Waiting for Lightning start to roll, after honoring Ternasky, and the aforementioned father and step-father, the viewer is left wanting to know more.  More about the man and just how he overcame all of the challenges life put in front of his board’s wheels.  That’s the missing part of this documentary, replaced by lots of great footage of skating.

If you’re a skater or a fan of skating, by all means go and see this film.  If you aren’t, it may not be for you.

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