Posted by Aaron West, 3/8/04
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Starring Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich
Running Time: 136 minutes
"This is more than a hockey game to a lot of people."
Patty Brooks, played by Patricia Clarkson, says these words
to her husband Herb, on the eve of the medal matchup between
the United States and the Soviet Union. Miracle is a lot
more than a hockey movie to a lot of people, and it successfully
captures not only the suspense of a close contest, but also
the spirit of a time. This makes Miracle more than just
a sports movie for sports fans, but a film that everyone
Miracle is the story of the United States' Hockey Team
during the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. Herb Brooks
(Kurt Russell) devises a strategy that he feels could allow
the U.S. to compete against the best hockey team in the
world at that time, the Soviet National Team. Miracle is
the story of his team, 20 youngsters who had never played
together before, and how they made it to the Medal Round
of the Olympics.
Few pictures are able to capture a time. Even fewer are
able to do so by using sports as the focus. Last year's
Seabiscuit was somewhat successful. This year's Miracle
is completely successful. Gavin O'Connor captures the volatility,
the tension, and even the fear of 1980, and he presents
this hockey challenge as a battle between the two powers,
which is exactly what it was for a lot of people.
Russell gives the performance of his life as Herb Brooks.
He nails the sternness, toughness and gritiness, but he
also shows the human side. The man who failed once, and
wants to make up for it; the man who cares for his wife,
but cannot give up his dream; the man who will stop at nothing
in order to win.
The filmmakers could have easily trimmed 30 minutes off
the film, but it's a good thing they didn't. Probably the
first scenes to be cut would be the practice and training
sequences, all of which belong in this film. A lot of directors
would have been tempted to give us a film under 2 hours.
O'Connor deserves credit for giving us the entire package,
by showing what the team went through, and how the family
bond is created. This pays off later, during the intense
action scenes and rousing finale.
Miracle has some of the most suspenseful sports sequences
I have ever seen in film. This is even more impressive considering
I knew who was going to win. In fact, I've known about the
game for over 20 years, but I still was on the edge of the
my seat. Credit has to be given to the editors for creating
some beautiful tension.
might not have the polish or be a technical wonder, like
the aforementioned Seabiscuit, but it has all the heart
and then some. It appeals to our patriotic spirit and there
is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. It will be remembered
as one of the great sports movies, and it deserves such