THE STORY – Cut from the Olympic ski team, British athlete Michael “Eddie” Edwards travels to Germany to test his skills at ski jumping. Fate leads him to Bronson Peary, a former ski jumper who now works as a snowplow driver. Impressed by Edwards’ spirit and determination, Peary agrees to train the young underdog. Despite an entire nation counting him out, Eddie’s never-say-die attitude takes him all the way to a historic and improbable showing at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.
THE CAST – Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Iris Berben & Jim Broadbent
THE TEAM – Dexter Fletcher (Director), Sean Macaulay & Simon Kelton (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 105 Minutes
By Matt N.
Maybe something is wrong with me but try as hard as I may, I can never seem to buy into these “inspirational sports films.” My friends and family can’t ever seem to get enough of them, but my thirst for more from this genre has yet to quenched. “Eddie The Eagle,” the true story of British Olympian ski jumper Michael Edwards, is the latest movie that has failed to turn me into a believer for this genre. That doesn’t mean that the masses won’t eat this story up. But, if you’re looking for something a little more substantial, best to wait.
As stated before, “Eddie The Eagle” is the story of Michael Edwards (Taron Egerton) and his unlikely rise to the 1988 Winter Olympics. Michael (Or Eddie as he’s called throughout the film) is not the world’s greatest athlete. He lacks any real encouragement from those around him including his own father (Keith Allen). However, with the support of his mother (Jo Hartley) and his undying dreams of one day competing in the Olympics, Eddie takes a never say die attitude with his goals. He realizes that his true passion lies with Ski Jumping, but lacks in any real experience with the sport. Eddie eventually meets former Olympic Ski Jumper – And now down on his luck drunk – Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) who agrees to help him overcome the odds and go on to become the first competitor representing Great Britain in the sport of Ski Jumping at the Olympics.
“Eddie the Eagle” isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. An unlikely hero who with little (Yet enough) help goes on to play in a competitive sport and achieve his dreams. The film is a paint by the numbers retelling of a story we have seen countless times. Even though the story will never fail to enthrall and inspire others to do the same as Michael Edwards did, you have to wonder if there was another direction they could’ve taken this material in. They already play loose with the facts as Eddie’s coach Bronson Peary is a fictitious character made up for the benefit of the film, so why not change other aspects of the story?
Despite the film being rather dull, Taron Egerton is proving himself to be quite a versatile actor. After playing a suave British Secret Agent in last year’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” he brings all of that charm he showcased here as Edwards. Filled with little tics and mannerisms that help to give Eddie a distinctive personality, Egerton fully inhabits the role and is the real reason that the audience falls in love with the unlikely British hero. Hugh Jackman is serviceable here (There is one scene involving him drunkenly going off a ski jump that is quite amusing) but fails to bring to the role the same level of dedication in creating a unique character as Egerton does (And he’s the one limited to playing a real-life person). The script doesn’t even bother to bring any of the other supporting characters any scenes worth the actor’s time. If you blink you’ll miss Christopher Walken, who has pretty much one scene. And can someone explain to me why Jim Broadbent was distractingly crammed in here? Other characters such as Eddie’s father and Dustin Target (Tim McInnerny) are so one note throughout the film, constantly acting as the embodiment of the barriers placed in front of Eddie, that you can’t believe how un-supporting and unrealistic they really are.
Narrative missteps with the screenplay aside, director Dexter Fletcher gives the film a colorful palette and shoots the ski jumping scenes very well, managing to make an otherwise boring sport very exhilarating. Other than Egerton and the film’s visuals, the one other aspect of the film that actually stood out for me in a positive light was the soaring synth score by Matthew Margeson, which managed to make me feel more fully motivated and alive than the actual film did. So as you can see, while “Eddie The Eagle” may have a few bright spots for me, it will probably have more than a few for you. It’s every bit as crowd pleasing and inspiring as you can possibly imagine. However, in today’s cinema landscape and as Eddie is told throughout the film, being good isn’t simply enough.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A transformative performance from Taron Egerton. An inspirational 80s infused score by Matthew Margeson.
THE BAD – Formulaic plot and cliches will leave hardcore cinephiles wanting something more.