I tend live my life by a rather loose set of rules and codes, but there are a few maxims to which I always adhere. The first and foremost of them? When Alex Roy invites you to something, you go. No questions asked. Put on your best scarf and show up. Something interesting is bound to happen.
Therefore, when I received an invitation from Alex to attend the New York Premiere of APEX: The Story of the Hypercar, I made sure to be in attendance.
APEX has been a passion project for J.F. Musial and his company, TangentVector, for several years. The title is self-explanatory—Musial and team, including Christian Schnedler, Tom Morningstar, Josh Vietze, and Will Barber, set out to tell the tale of five “hypercars”: the Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and the Koenigsegg One:1, so named because of its ridiculous 1:1 horsepower-to-kilogram ratio.
But while passing mention is given to the others, the film is truly the story of Christian Von Koenigsegg and his mission to build the fastest street-legal car in the world. To be given this pass into the world of the brilliant, obsessive mind of Von Koenigsegg is a rare luxury, and it’s one that Musial took quite seriously. It would be easy to turn such a film into an advertorial for the small automaker, but there is objectivity and honesty throughout the film.
Musial is aided in his storytelling by the brilliant cinematography of Morningstar, who paints a visual picture unlike anything we’ve ever seen outside of Top Gear, and I suspect that he did it with significantly less budget. To see APEX is to be placed in the driver’s seat of these unattainable cars on some of the world’s most legendary circuits, including Spa, Yas Marina, and, yes, the Nordschleife. One gets a sense of not only the beauty, but also the raw power and the danger of these mythical beasts.
Equally important to the pretty pictures are the words spoken by the hosts of the show, including Mike Spinell, Travis Okulski, Chris Harris, Dan Neil, and Roy, himself. Harris is particularly comfortable in front of the camera, and he makes much of the technical jargon seem accessible to the common man when he discusses it in his delightful English lilt. While Spinelli is given writing credits on the film, it’s clear that each host is speaking directly to the audience in his preferred style, with Roy saving one of his bon mots to close out the story. Narration is splendidly done by Zachary Levi, which made this father-of-two feel as though I were listening to Flynn Rider tell me about stratospherically-priced automobiles.
That’s not to say the film is without its flaws. Musial was obviously limited in his access by some of the automakers, most notably at Ferrari. One grows tired of Harris’ turning every corner on the track into a Formula D event. We get it, dude. Dan Neil, who appears to have done most of his filming at the Catalina Wine Mixer, is his typical “Hooray For Everything!” self.
But these are minor, insignificant annoyances in comparison to the sheer fascination that is induced by the rest of the movie. To see the dichotomy of Von Koenigsegg and Pagani on screen is particularly compelling — Christian, the technician, versus Horacio, the artisan. The diverse paths at which each of these companies arrive at the zenith of speed are captivating, and Musial and team do a wonderful job illustrating them.
As nearly the entire audience celebrated the accomplishment of the film along with the stars at Pravda, a subterranean Russian-themed bar in which Mr. Roy has a small ownership stake, it was obvious that this film was not created to be a moneymaker. It was created by a group of men who share a passion for the automobile, and after you watch the film, you’ll share in that passion.
Bark’s film rating is 4 out of 5 bones, and I recommend that you take the opportunity to see the film when it is released on iTunes on March 29th. If you can invite Mr. Roy to your house to watch it with you, that’s even better. Just turn up the volume and the resolution and prepare to be immersed in a lifestyle and technical marvel that is the stuff of dreams.
(Photo credit: Bark M./The Truth About Cars)