Miracle Review

by Steve Rhodes (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
February 2nd, 2004

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): ***

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.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, February 6, 2004. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC theaters, the Century theaters and the Camera Cinemas.

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