Early in this Showtime limited series, Kalanick pitches venture capitalist Bill Gurley (Chandler) to invest in the fledgling company, insisting the sky’s the limit on Uber’s potential, and that in terms of its “stickiness,” “If someone rides twice, we have them for life.”
At times “Super Pumped” feels a bit too cute for its own good, with shifting points of view and characters breaking the fourth wall to directly address the audience. Yet it’s still a sharply written examination of the buccaneering mentality that birthed many of these once-scrappy startups, with the lure of billions motivating (and helping provide rationalizations for) all sorts of bad behavior.
Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing snapshot of one particularly flashy example of the move-fast, break-stuff mentality, while providing its principals, Gordon-Levitt and Chandler, plenty of opportunity to shine.
Showtime, moreover, has already ordered a second season devoted to the founding of Facebook — which is also the subject of a limited series being developed at rival HBO — making that aforementioned “Social Network” comparison even more apt, sustaining the franchise in theory by dissecting a different case study each season.
Kalanick, at one point, is described as “a predatory animal,” and as depicted, it’s hard to argue otherwise. “Super Pumped” effectively illustrates that while such personalities might not be great to live with (or even share a ride with), as movies or limited series go, they can be pretty fascinating to watch.
“Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” premieres Feb. 27 at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.