As the 1980 Olympics approach, Herb Brooks (Russell) is appointed as coach of the US hockey team. With the Soviet Union having dominated the sport for decades now, Brooks proposes a radical strategy and some intense training methods in order to compete with them. Pushing the players to their limit and beyond, he goes about building a team to go up against the seemingly invincible Russians…
The sort of film which would be labelled as unrealistic if it wasn’t based on actual events, Disney’s Miracle overcomes a host of familiar genre clichés (the tough-but-fair coach, the underdog triumph, the ‘getting better’ montage) to produce a crowd-pleasing sports docu-drama. While the narrative is fairly straightforward and predictable (the well-documented nature of the game kinda gives the ending away, as does the poster), just knowing that this “miracle on ice” actually happened is stirring enough. Sadly, the character work for the team itself is so slight that we never get beyond a basic identification for any of them (IE, one is ‘Tag from Friends’, another is ‘guy with the retro ‘tache’), but this is Brooks’ story. Delivering one of the best performances of his career, Kurt Russell is truly captivating as the demanding coach, culminating in one of the most inspirational speeches you’ll find on YouTube. Credit to filmmaker Gavin O’Connor too, who realises the on-ice action superbly, particularly the climactic twenty-minute recreation of the classic game.
The sort of film which would be labelled as unrealistic if it wasn’t based on actual events, Disney’s Miracle overcomes a host of familiar genre clichés to produce a crowd-pleasing sports docudrama.