being the most powerful nation on Earth, the United States
and Americans love stories about underdogs. And if there is
one genre of film that we have mastered, it is the inspirational
sports film. Movies like Remember the Titans, The Rookie,
The Natural, Hoosiers and Rudy are classic examples
of a formula we are all familiar with but still love. Even
though we know the outcome, particularly in the case of Miracle,
the journey is still enjoyable enough to tug on the old patriotic
you were high on coke during 1980 or just not old enough to
remember, Miracle is based on the true story of a group
of American college hockey players, hand-picked by coach Herb
Brooks to face the most dominant hockey team to ever skate
on Olympic ice, the Russians.
was a modern day David vs. Goliath story on a world stage.
The USA was simply given no chance of winning against the
Russians. Brooks redefined how Americans played hockey and
how they trained for the games. The final result was the gold
medal which had eluded Brooks himself when he was cut from
the USA hockey team twenty years earlier.
Russell plays the part of Herb Brooks to perfection in one
of the best acting roles he has had in years. Russell manages
to portray Herb's tough love style of coaching as well as
obsession with winning the gold medal while maintaining a
likeability that other actors may not have been able to pull
off. Russell is the cornerstone to the quality of Miracle,
just as Brooks was to the real event 24 years ago.
helps carry the acting load as Patty Brooks, Herb's wife.
While her role is not large, Clarkson shines on the screen
with each scene. It's easy to see why she's nominated for
an Academy Award this year for Pieces of April.
A coach so great
he could draw plays in thin air.
the story follows the team from Herb's point of view, the
audience never gets to learn more than superficial details
about the characters that make up the team. While hockey fans
will recognize players' names, average audience members will
have little to identify characters other than "guy with moustache"
and "guy with attitude problem."
exception is "guy that plays goalie" Jim Craig, played by
Eddie Cahill. The film captures Craig's struggle with the
untimely loss of his mother, shadowing everything he accomplishes
with the team, and, for a while at least, holding him back.
Just as Cahill himself is the lone "real actor"
on the team, Craig became the lone breakout, mainstream star
of the US hockey team.
In what turned
out to be a smart move, the members of the team are not
played by professional actors but rather by real life hockey
players that were instructed in acting. This yields some
great hockey action on screen that might have not been otherwise
possible without Hollywood magic.
is more than just a good sports movie. The film tries to capture
the atmosphere of the time as much as the game itself. Americans
were in desperate need of a morale boost after Watergate,
Three Mile Island, a national gas shortage, American hostages
being held in Iran and a growing cold war with Russia. The
US hockey team became heroes and idols when America needed
current social and political climate, we need them again.
Miracle is a quality movie at the right time. Will
it change the mood of America or turn the tide of American
political cynicism? Nope. But it will have more than a few
moviegoers teary eyed and applauding in their seats.
great action, seamless storytelling and fantastic source
material make this the best movie of 2004 thus far.