‘2nd Chance’ Documents Richard Davis’s Story of Bullets, Betrayal, and Consequences

Ulises Duenas


A good documentary is hard to make even if it’s focused on an interesting subject. The editing, interviews, and pacing all play a role in telling the story, and director/writer Ramin Bahrani understands this well. 2nd Chance recounts the story of Richard Davis, who was a pioneer in inventing lightweight body armor since the early 1970s. His rise and fall are expertly documented in Bahrani’s film.


After finding himself in a dangerous shootout while delivering pizzas, Davis had the idea to create body armor that was light enough for everyday use, while offering enough protection to stop a bullet. He found success and before long, he went from shipping his armor in pizza boxes to starting his own company, called Second Chance -- creating a factory and becoming a hero to the town locals and police officers across the nation. He’s also noted for shooting himself almost 200 times in total as a way of testing his armor vests ever since making the first one out of nylon. 



Bahrani’s skill as a storyteller comes through because in the first third of the movie, Davis comes off as a likable guy who wants to save lives and keep families together, but some dark truths are foreshadowed as the story develops. Davis’s character as depicted here slowly deteriorates, as interviews and events make him seem like he’s desperate to maintain his image as a savior. One early example is how Davis's belief that anyone who would endanger the life of a police officer deserves death resulted in him offering bounties to cops who managed to kill anyone who shot them while wearing his armor in the form of a reward gun. 


As Davis’s misdeeds get worse, it becomes apparent that his connections in law enforcement make it easy for him to get away with everything, while facing only minor consequences: from attempting to bribe and frame a young man for his role in a woman having a heart attack, to denying his responsibility for multiple people getting injured at one of his fireworks shows. It’s like something out of a fictional movie, where the goofy, earnest main character keeps slipping up because he wants everyone to continue liking him.



For Davis, it wasn’t all about the money; it was about having a positive reputation as someone who made a difference and saved lives, but his actions showed his true colors.


Seeing the events of Davis’s life and Second Chance as a company spiral downward is both interesting and upsetting, as their neglect leads to innocent lives being lost. It’s a story of both betrayal and redemption, and the film does a great job of telling the stories of those involved with Davis --  and you still have characters to sympathize with. Anyone who is a fan of documentaries should definitely watch this.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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