Review by Steve Rhodes|
3 stars out of 4
MIRACLE retells one of the most miraculous sports stories in U.S. history,
as a bunch of college kids defeat the invincible Soviet hockey team in the
1980 Olympics and go on to win the gold medal. The Russian team, which had
recently demolished the National Hockey League All-Stars by 6 to 0, had
dominated the Olympics for two decades. In short, the Russian team was by
far and away the best in the world.
Although the film infuriatingly is never able to differentiate among the
U.S. team's many players, it does capture the coach, Herb Brooks, with
precision. An athletic-conditioning sadist with a purpose, a
my-way-or-the-highway guy with a hidden golden heart and a mercurial but
calculating figure, Brooks is played with a dedicated intensity by Kurt
Russell. It is impossible not to be in awe of what Brooks accomplished.
Patricia Clarkson, in a nice performance in a throwaway role, plays the
coach's nearly superfluous wife. Hands down, the best supporting
performance is given by the person who plays the Russian coach. Without a
single audible word, he tells it all in his facial expressions, as he moves
from supreme confidence to shock to disbelief. By the end, he is like a
deer caught in the headlights, frozen, hopeless and lost.
No MIGHTY DUCKS, the movie is a drama, not a comedy, although there are a
few funny moments. With extensive archival footage, the movie takes pains
to show us just how far down we had sunk during the Carter administration,
with the holding of the American hostages in the American Embassy in Iran
being our lowest point. As a country, we were despondent. This team
provided us some hope. The stands cheered "U S A" again and again as our
team played its heart out. The movie, which is never as good as the story
itself, begins in a slow and sappy manner. Its sports action cinematography
features more head shots than action in the first two acts, and the editing
is needlessly choppy.
All criticism of the film becomes moot in its exhilarating, long last act,
as the filming stays with the hockey action and we watch our team succeed at
the impossible. Repeat after me, "U S A, U S A, U S A."
MIRACLE runs 2:10. The film is rated PG for "language and some rough sports
action" and would be acceptable for all ages.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes