Miracle is the story of the American Ice Hockey Team of 1980 that went on to beat the almost unbeatable Soviet Ice Hockey team to win the Olympics. The Soviets were a team which had been annihilating its competition for a long time before the Americans turned the tables on them in the most unexpected fashion. The film chronicles the journey of Coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) who hand picks the team of players from across the states and puts them through a grueling 7 months of training throughout which period many times his judgment and sanity are questioned by varied people but at the end of the day he is able to triumph over the most insurmountable of odds to grab a place for himself and his team on the Hall Of Fame in American Ice Hockey.
Miracle at many junctures stops being the story of the boys who won the medal and becomes the story of the man who fueled their dream run. Many critics sighted it as a bad sign for a sport film and I would have agreed with them had it not been for the soulful performance of Kurt Russell. In devoting more time to the character of Russell, the directory is able to present the film as both a standalone sport film as well as a biographical account of the life of Herb Brooks. Russell’s spirited show never lets the narrative slip which in turns proves to be a big plus for the film.
There is also enough sports action to keep even the most demanding of sports fans satisfied. The matches are scripted with brutal reality and life like feel. Each of the matches is complete with elaborate preparations and on field chemistry and alteration with the players leading to total believebality. The training routines of the players are also captured with vigor and there are a few sequences which will shock you. The scene where Brooks finds his players distracted by blondes and under performing and then goes on to make them run on the ice hours after the match is done is just one of them.
Each of the players too has their own little stories but Brooks own story throws a shadow on every other story. The themes of teamwork and family are portrayed in the movie with gusto. The most prominent themes come off the ice. Coach Herb Brooks juggles his dedication to his goal of winning and creating a top-tier team while also trying to be there for his family. To start with he lands up in a soup with his family life and his wife in particular but gradually he grows up to both the responsibilities and his wife too starts understanding his need for what he is doing. The final match has Herb’s wife cheering the USA from the stands in unison with every other American.
The twenty players on the team become a family through their long process. They are all from different universities and teams, but learn to become one team representing the United States. The rivalries between the universities have the better of the individuals but with Herb’s vice like grip on them and his guidance, they learn to let go of their petty differences for the common and larger goal of making their country proud. The Soviet adversary are depicted with much reverence and the manner in which they trounce the USA in an exhibition match only increases the stakes for our heroes. So when finally they are beaten, the sight is as much to marvel at as it is inspiring.
Miracle is easily one of the most inspiring sports films of our times. The fact that it is a true story makes its even more worthy of a view. The fact that it is so inspiring is well documented in the number of films that it has inspired(chuckles!). The Indian audiences will be well aware of the film called Chak De India! which was interestingly enough, marketed as a true story but turned out to be an almost “copy paste” job of Miracle.