Disney Pictures presents a film directed by Gavin O'Connor.
Written by Eric Guggenheim. Running time: 135 minutes.
Rated PG (for language and some rough sports action).
Starring Kurt Russell, Eddie Cahill, Michael Mantenuto,
Patrick O'Brien Demsey, Nathan West, Noah Emmerich, Patricia
February of 1980, Americans sat around their televisions to
watch a hockey game. It was the Winter Olympics, and the U.S.A.
was facing off against the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union.
For some, this will be a day remembered forever, as the upstart
American team defeated the Soviets in an incredible upset.
For others, it will survive as nothing more than a footnote
the U.S.A.'s victory served as a step forward in the Cold
War. At a time when many Americans were losing hope in their
country and the world, the Miracle on Ice, as it became known,
served as a reminder that life could still be good. It jumpstarted
faith in our country and, surprisingly, in the war effort,
as it was proven that the Soviets could be defeated. Miracle
is the film adaptation of this event.
is a sports film that isn't about individual players, the
team, or even the sport. It is partially about the Miracle
and partially about the social climate of the era. But mostly
it is about coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), the man who
took a group of young unknowns and turned it into the best
hockey team in the world. A former Olympic hopeful, cut from
the team at the last minute, Brooks now wants nothing more
than to lead a team to glory. To do this, he creates a team
of, as he puts it, "Not the best players; the right
players." He wants them to act like, and play like, a
family. To do this, Brooks acts like a dictator, forcing his
players to work well past their breaking point. He is not
their friend, he is their coach. The friend part is left to
assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich), who treats
the players with respect. But we sense that Brooks loves his
players more than he would ever let on; his plan is simply
to let their hate for him unite them as a team.
players on the team are either anonymous or recognizable by
a few characteristics. They include goal tender Jim Craig
(Eddie Cahill), Jack O'Callahan (Michael Mantenuto), and team
captain Mike Eruzione (Patrick O'Brien Demsey). The most important
players are roughly defined, but not really developed; we
like them, but never really get to know them. This is the
film's only real failing, but it is understandable. It would
be unfair to expect an entire team of hockey players to be
fully fleshed out.
besides, any of those flaws are easy to forgive once the twenty-minute
recreation of the actual game rolls around. It is an extraordinary
cinematic achievement, and director Gavin O'Connor should
be praised for pulling off such a tough job so admirably.
There are no fancy camera tricks, just excellent cinematography
and well-photographed action. Somehow, O'Connor has managed
to make the game truly compelling and suspenseful even though
everyone already knows how it's going to turn out.
Russell, quite possibly the most underrated actor workign
today, is exceptional as Brooks, inhabiting the man he is
portraying. There is none of Russell here, just the character,
and his performance is captivating. Patrica Clarkson manages
to bring quiet dignity to the underdeveloped and unneeded
role of Brooks's wife. The actors playing the players, all
unknowns, are convincing.
dedicated to Brooks, who died in a car crash shortly after
principle photography finished. "He never saw it,"
we are told, referring to the film, "he lived it."
Miracle is a fitting tribute to the legacy of this
2004 Matt Noller