Bombardier Blood

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Bombardier Blood Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu makes valiant climb but doesn't quite summit.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 80 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Obstacles are meant to be overcome: You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chris Bombardier is an inspirational figure: Instead of feeling limited by blood disorder, he works with it to work around it. He discovers his purpose is to inspire others suffering from the same illness. He's kind, brave, grateful, works in service of others. He pushes himself physically but has healthy attitude that if he doesn't hit maximum achievement, it's OK. Chris offers a positive example of masculinity: physically strong and emotionally open. He expresses empathy and other feelings, accepts comforting hugs from another strong, athletic man he doesn't know well. Chris' wife, Jessica, is also a positive figure: smart, patient, incredibly supportive.

Violence

Several close-ups of needles going into skin. Examples of blood disturbances to people with hemophilia can be upsetting: swollen body parts, bruises, abrasions. 

Sex

Discussion of how Chris and Jessica met. They share a kiss.

Language
Consumerism

Heavily promotes nonprofit organization Save One Life and pharmaceutical company Octapharma, with segment that presents its billionaire CEO in a positive light. While The North Face isn't listed in credits, it seems like it might be a sponsor: The brand is everywhere, with labels on display. Other brands seen incidentally in background. But no materialistic attitudes here: Bombardiers live modestly, allocating money toward achieving Chris' goals, raising money to help others.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer at a restaurant and at a celebration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bombardier Blood is an inspiring adventure documentary about a man with hemophilia who overcomes physical limitations to climb the world's tallest mountains. Chris Bombardier is a humble, perseverant man who refuses to be told he can't do things because of his blood disorder. He follows the medical community's guidance so that he can achieve his goals, thereby giving hope to others in the close-knit global hemophilia community. Understanding what it means to be a role model, Bombardier uses his achievements to create awareness for the nonprofit organization Save One Life and to raise money for those who can't afford costly hemophilia treatments. Some images of the effects of hemophilia -- including extremely swollen limbs, harsh bruises, and abrasions -- as well as close-ups of needles penetrating skin may be disturbing to kids and/or sensitive viewers. But while there's quite a bit of talk about blood, there's only one photograph of someone significantly bleeding. Language, sex, and substance use aren't issues, and the the movie has clear themes of gratitude and courage.

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What's the story?

"Adventurer with hemophilia" has long seemed like an oxymoron -- until Chris Bombardier. The athletic mountaineer is determined not to let his blood disorder hold him back, and BOMBARDIER BLOOD follows him as he sets out to climb all seven major summits -- including Mount Everest -- to raise awareness of the lack of global access to important medical treatments for those with hemophilia.

Is it any good?

Bombardier's journey is inspirational well beyond the hemophilia and mountain climbing communities. He's the kind of person people root for: He demonstrates humility, perseverance, courage, gratitude, and a willingness to work hard to achieve. And he's not arrogant or defiant while doing so. Films often introduce main characters who brashly ignore warnings by experts or the medical community, just to defy the odds of success. But in this real-life scenario, Bombardier achieves his goals by following the experts' advice and also makes it clear that if he's not able to do it, it will be fine -- he's not going to do anything dumb out of bravado or stubbornness. That's something parents may well want to point out to their kids. Bombardier's own parents and wife worry but are supportive, and they also share how Bombardier is cautious and gives back to the community.

Bombardier Blood showcases the emotional bond that people with hemophilia tend to share. Calling each other "blood brothers," many form instant relationships based on their shared difficulty. There's a surge of freeing relief that comes when someone truly understands your struggle, and with this sympathetic film, cinematographer-director Patrick James Lynch ensures that the circle of understanding will grow larger for those with hemophilia. All of that said, while there's plenty here worth watching and learning, it is virtually an infomercial for the nonprofit organization Save One Life and the pharmaceutical company Octopharma, which financed Bombardier's expedition. As a piece of nonfiction work, Bombardier Blood makes a valiant climb but doesn't quite reach the summit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Chris Bombardier demonstrates courage, perseverance, and gratitude in Bombardier Blood. Why are these valuable character strengths?

  • What makes Bombardier a positive example of gender representation? How does he differ from the way many male athletic achievers have been portrayed in the media in the past? 

  • Bombardier's expedition is paid for by a pharmaceutical company, and a small portion of the documentary features an interview with that company's CEO. Athletes almost always have to find corporate sponsors. Do you think the inclusion of the interview is OK in a type of film that's often considered to be a type of journalism?

  • Why has hemophilia traditionally been a limiting disorder? Why does living in an industrialized part of the world increase the survival rate?

  • How is Chris emboldened once he realizes his purpose? How does serving others often bolster our own feelings of self-worth?

Movie details

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