Focused on achieving the impossible — defeating the Soviet Union’s unbeaten hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics — brash U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) unites a motley group of college athletes and turns them into a force to be reckoned with. Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich and Eddie Cahill co-star in this inspirational drama based on an improbable true story that shocked the world.
Rating: 7 out of 10
I was highly skeptical of Disney making this movie because the story itself is truly inspiring, dramatic and climactic, and doesn’t need any over-the-top sticky, gooey love on top.
Shockingly to me, Disney handled this film well. It was dramatic without hitting the audience over the head with sentimentality. Director Gavin O’Connor (Pride and Glory) developed his characters intelligently by focusing on Coach Brooks, played very well by Kurt Russell, and spending enough time with the players so we know and care about them, but don’t get all of their unnecessary back stories. If O’Connor had spread out his time trying to develop even three of the 20 players plus the coach, we would have ended up with thin characters we didn’t care about and a slow moving story.
Russell brought great tension to the role. He had a fierce edge with a bit of bitterness. This was one of his better performances of late — I also loved him as Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof.” You have to set aside the fact that we know the ending, we know the feel-good, we know we conquered the commies. But what most of us didn’t know was the difficult back story these men faced. This movie portrays that drama in compelling fashion.