The most fascinating figure in “2nd Chance” is front and center from the beginning. When we first see Davis in archival footage, he’s shooting himself in the chest to demonstrate the protective power of the vest he’s designed. He’s matter-of-fact as he walks us through this harrowing act; we’ll learn that he’s done this 192 times in his life.
But the bespectacled Michigander isn’t just obsessed with weaponry. He’s also a showman and a filmmaker. His low-budget, pulpy pictures, which are intended as glorified infomercials for his former business, Second Chance, draw from the swaggering ethos of “Dirty Harry” in hilarious and appalling ways.
What’s consistent in all his propaganda, regardless of the medium, is that the bulletproof vest he created saves the day. Watching more recent interviews with him, as he sits on a comfy leather couch in his humble living room, you get the idea that he derives an authentic sense of pride in having saved hundreds of police officers’ lives. For all the shadiness we’ll discover about Davis down the line, there’s something earnest and pure about the sense of duty that defines him. Or did, for a time.
And yet his entire operation also was meant to instill fear in police officers that criminals were such an incessant threat, andthe only way to stay alive was to buy more of his product. In particular, 9/11 was a boon to his business, as it allowed him to expand his sales beyond individual police departments and into the larger United States military. The fact that he so giddily benefitted from so much unnecessary violence and suffering makes him kind of an abhorrent human being, an instinct he masks with a puckish sense of humor and an aw-shucks persona.