Based on a true story, "Miracle" follows the formation, training and victory of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the team that lifted the hearts of Americans.
Within the first few minutes, the audience is introduced not only to Kirk Russell who plays Coach Herb Brooks, but also to many of the players, including Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig and Jack O'Callahan. The first big obstacle that develops for the team are the rivalries between players.
Russell does a phenomenal job as Brooks, flawlessly portraying the coach who must teach his athletes how to play like a team. The film shows the seven months of relentless practice, conditioning and scrimmages prior to the Lake Placid Olympics.
The main goal is to prepare to play the Soviet team. At that time the Soviets were not only the rivals with the U.S. in the Cold War, but also the undisputed best hockey team in the world. Political tensions were high, especially with the recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a gas shortage, presidential assassination attempts, and the U.S. hostage situation in Iran. Plus, rumors that the Soviets would boycott the Olympics had given the U.S. reason to doubt any success against them in the Olympics. However, against all expectations, they accept the invitation, setting the stage for one of the most dramatic hockey games in sports history.
At the time, hockey was not very popular in America and the team desperately needed a morale booster. It came from the most unexpected place.
The final game between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. is one of the best I've ever seen in a movie. All three periods are complete with the eventual U.S. comeback and the dramatic ending where goalie Jim Craig blocks the Soviets' final attempt to score.
Ending with the medal ceremony where the U.S. is awarded the gold, the credits offer insight into what happened to the players after Lake Placid.
"Miracle" is definitely one of the best sports movies I have ever seen, though I may be biased since I'm a hockey player. You should keep an open mind about hockey, like Americans did in 1980.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.