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Published on June 20th, 2008 | by simeon

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Miracle

In 1980, America was in a state of transition and turmoil as political events threatened world stability. The Reagan era was just starting but the nation was still trying to deal with economic issues as well as the Iran hostage crisis, and long gas lines.

As if those issues were not enough, the Cold War was still in full swing and tensions had mounted due to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Against this backdrop, coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), is busy preparing a team of college Hockey players to represent the United States in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Since the Olympics were being held in Lake Placid New York, the pressure was on for the U.S. team to make a respectable showing as the Olympic committee did not want the team to be embarrassed in front of the home crowd.

This was a task easier said than done, as the young players would be facing the best the world could throw at them, including the invincible Russian team that had not lost a game in 15 years and had recently handily defeated a team of NHL All Stars. The Russians like many of the teams that the Americans would face had played with each other for years and were like well-oiled machines in comparison to the assembled Americans who had less than a year to prepare.

The early part of the film focuses on the team selection process and Brook’s constant pushing of the team mentally and physically, even when it is to the dismay of his assistant coaches and disdain of his players. The audience is introduced to the players but they are never given much depth as the story focuses on Brooks and his desire to beat the Russians.

The later part of the film deals with the warm up games the team faced and then swings into the Olympics and the march to glory. The games are recreated mainly in highlight format as the focus of the films game recreation is saved for the dramatic and emotional game with the Russians. The action is fast and furious and is very accurate to the actual game itself.

While very emotional and entertaining, much of “Miracle” unfolds like a movie of the week. Russell does a great job as Brooks, but the supporting cast is not given any chance to shine. Patricia Clarkson is wasted in the role of Mrs. Brooks as she is not given much to do other than utter a few lines of encouragement and be the wife by the side of the coach.

All that being said, “Miracle;” is an uplifting and enjoyable look back at arguably the greatest moment in U.S. sports history. The film does stir the emotions and those of us who were old enough to remember the huge shot of patriotic pride that enveloped the land during those magical two weeks and how that team gave a nation renewed hope for the future and made us feel good just when we needed it the most.

3 stars out of 5


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