Miracle is a highly inspirational film that chronicles one of the greatest upsets in sporting history.

During the Winter Olympics of 1980, the United States men’s Ice Hockey team did something no one believed they could. No one, except team coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell). Miracle chronicles true events leading up to how a rag-tag team of underdogs went up against the mighty and hugely popular Soviet team.

Having won the Olympic Gold just once in comparison to the Soviet’s five-win streak, the US Olympic Committee has a herculean task in setting up a decent team, besides the obvious five-to-one odds of beating the Soviets. All this changes the day Herb Brooks signs on as head coach. From day one, his philosophy on beating the soviets was all about change – change in the way players think and act, including their attitude as sportsmen. Brilliantly portrayed by Russell, Brooks is not only a man on a mission; he turns out to be a fine line between a pathetic loss and a glorious win at the Olympics. To get his team in shape, Brooks starts practice sessions as early as six months prior to the opening ceremony- an approach that seemed unnecessary by many at the time. However, brook’s real strategy was the psychological and physical grooming of his players. Part of this includes the psychosis of exactly what a player means to the team. As a whole, never has a message been driven so severely about teamwork than that embedded in this film.

In the end, the results of the games become irrelevant, as the film is all about Brooks’ methods of driving his team. In stark contrast to the film’s title, the outcome was not caused by a miracle, rather, one man’s vision and belief which translates into impeccable leadership that built a highly motivated team.

It is indeed tragic that the real Herb Brooks passed away shortly before this film was released. But having worked with the cast and crew during production, I am sure his very presence on the sets added an authentic feel to this film. While the underdog factor always remains a crowd pleaser in cinema, director Gavin O’Connor pulls this off without going overboard. By this I mean there are little or no special effects or moments that require the audience to suspend reality. Aiding O’Connor is the heavyweight script by Eric Guggenheim − a story that evades all the trappings of Hollywood’s tendency to blow things out of the water. You must appreciate the fact that Guggenheim has written a biopic of a period saga − a time when The US and USSR were still in a state of ‘Cold War’ and could have easily used the script as propaganda, a recurring Hollywood habit that seems to go well with some sections of the audience. Even so, the story does not lose focus on Brooks. Ironically, the film does not even show the final match against Finland, but revolves round the daunting obstacle of the Soviets. In essence, the story is a huge metaphor of not waiting for the cloud to pass, but to charge through the clouds to get to the silver lining.

Together, O’Conner and Guggenheim have taken one of the greatest upsets in sporting history and made a simple film, yet one that is symbolically powerful in its message and narration. There are various other films like Coach Carter or even the Academy Award Winning Million Dollar Baby that serve as highly inspirational movies. Adding Miracle to that list will not only enrich your feel-good experience, it is a film that has to be seen simply due to its historical significance in sporting history and how one man brought about that change.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.