The Movie of The 2000’s is No Miracle

Miracle, directed by Gavin O’Connor is possibly the greatest sports movie of the 2000's. The film being a true story about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team captures more than just the sport itself. With valuable lessons throughout the movie the viewer has a lot to take away from it.

What Lessons?

Being a sports movie, it is easy to incorporate many lessons into the movie that could be thought of as “themes” of the film. Miracle does exactly that, with an underdog USA team as the movies focus, it has taught us perseverance, teamwork, and belief in yourself.

The first of the three listed above, perseverance, is one of the more prominent ones throughout the movie. With many different challenges and bumps in the road thrown their way the US never gave up. These various obstacles whether it has to do with the rules such as how the US only allowed amateurs to participate in the games where other countries such as Russia or Finland allowed professionals, or the outside distractions like the Cold War which was happing at the time never prevented the US team from doing their best to achieve their goal.

Another theme in this movie is teamwork. This being a common theme in almost any sports movie, plays a significant role in this one as well. Much like other sports movies such as Hoosiers, We Are Marshall, or Coach Carter, almost every member of the team is incorporated in the film and plays a role in the team’s success. This movie really shows that when part of a team it is very important to do your part because every member is just as important as the next.

Finally, belief in yourself. Probably the most important theme within the movie. With almost the entire world and even a lot of their home country giving them no chance to even get past the preliminary round, the US hockey team had only themselves to believe in them. The odds heavily favoring the high powered Soviet Union after they had won eight of the previous nine gold medals and destroyed the US 10–3 in an exhibition game before the Olympic games, everyone had already had them chalked in as the clear winner. However, the US never doubted themselves and the rest is history.

The Director

Gavin O’Connor has built a distinguished career in directing on a verity of other drama films such as Warrior, Pride and Glory, and most recently The Accountant. Of those three, the one most like Miracle is Warrior, both are sports dramas about an underdog, Miracle being the US hockey team and Warrior being the younger brother.

O’Connor does an excellent job portraying the game of hockey during that time. That can be very difficult considering the game in 2004 (when the movie came out) was much different than it was in 1980 and continues to change every day. He captures the speed of the game with up close and personal camera angles ice level showing players zooming past every which way. He also does a fantastic job showing the style of gameplay during that time where goalies played more upright and had different padding and the players passed more because the sticks used then were more difficult to handle the puck with.

Not only does O’Connor do a respectable job of showing the game of hockey during that time but he also incorporates what was going on in the world and how the US hockey team helped an entire country. During the 1980 Olympic games the US was in a brutal war with the Soviet Union of Russia. These were very tough times for millions of people and there wasn’t much to take their minds of these terrible things happening. That was until a surprising US hockey team took the Olympic games by storm and changed that. O’Connor does an excellent job highlighting how this underdog hockey team made up of college kids quickly caught the attention of an entire country going through hardships and gave them something to cheer for and gave them a source of hope from somewhere they least expected.

What Happened?

Head coach Herb Brooks of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team has been hired as the new coach of the United States Olympic hockey team for the upcoming 1980 Winter Olympics and he has no idea what he’s getting into. He must put together the best roster he can made up of amateur college players because as previously mentioned professional hockey players are not allowed to play for the US Olympic team.

After a rough start, you quickly realize the individual rivalries within the team with players from the University of Minnesota playing alongside players from the University of North Dakota. This group of players go through very challenging times and learn valuable lessons along the way.

With the odds stacked against them and troubling times at home, the players put their individual rivalries aside and realize who they are really playing for, the United States of America. Feeling good about themselves going into the tournament they are hit with a hard blow after being defeated by the heavily favored Soviet Union 10–3 in an exhibition game prior to the Olympic games. However, with perseverance and teamwork they push on and find themselves in an unexpected rematch with the high powered Soviet Union in the semifinals which would end up being a game for the history books.

Who are They?

Herb Brooks, one of the greatest coaches to ever stand behind the bench is tremendously played by Kurt Russell. Brooks, known as one of the most inspirational yet also one of the strictest and hardnosed coaches to coach the sport is portrayed almost to a perfection by Russell. One of the most notable and memorable scenes in the movie is in the locker room right before the US team takes the ice to face off against the Soviet Union in the semifinals rematch when coach brooks gives the team the single most inspirational speech of movie history that would be quoted to this day and for years to come. It’s scenes like this throughout the movie that Russell is at his best. Much like his roles in Deepwater Horizon and The Hateful Eight Russell does an excellent job and playing serious type roles but can also expand his acting to different personalities like he does in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Sky High. This is why he is perfect for this role because a good coach, like Brooks was, is serious but also has a sense of humor and other personalities at times.

What I believe makes this movie special are the supporting roles around Kurt Russell. The actors playing the roles of the various players do a fantastic job. For most of them, their role in Miracle is the biggest role they’ve played their entire careers and aren’t known for much else. Patrick O’Brien Demsey, playing Mike Eruzione, the captain of the team does a wonderful job portraying the boy from Boston doing his best to lead an underdog team to a gold medal. Eddie Cahill, playing Jim Craig the goaltender, another Boston boy plays the part fantastic showing the style of Craig’s game perfectly and the hardships the Craig family was going through at the time. Nathan West, Playing Rob McClanahan, one of Brooks’ own players from Minnesota and Michael Mantenuto, playing the part of Jack O’Callahan, another Boston boy, are both similar players and both played perfectly by their actors. These are only a handful of the actors that did great at playing the roles of these players. Without them I don’t think the film would be as strong as it was.

Personal Take

Overall, I think this is a great film that any sports fan should watch whether they are a fan of hockey or not. It has all the makings of a great sports movie and keeps the viewer engaged at every point throughout. The director is great, the actors are great, and most importantly the story is great. There’s not much else you could ask for in a movie.

Grade: A+