Miracle tells the true story of Herb Brooks (Russell), the player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad.
With a professional and intense performance by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, Miracle, the story of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's miraculous win over the vaunted Soviets at the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, is by far one of the best true-life sports movies ever made. Russell definitively captures the intensity of Brooks, who in real life just missed the cut on the 1960 Olympic hockey team at Squaw Valley (where the Soviets last lost) and has now been given the task of fielding what the U.S. Olympic Committee wants--the best team of hockey players. But Russell is after something more--like the right team of hockey players, the right combination that will ensure not only competitiveness but also give a winning edge to the squad once the Olympics start. Though he resorts to cajoling, temper outbursts that would nearly rival anything Bobby Knight ever did, and extremely strenuous skating exercises, the team gradually grows to respect him and, in one of the great moments in sports history, Brooks' team defeats the vaunted Soviets 4-3 in the Olympic semifinals, setting themselves up for the subsequent gold medal win against Finland.
Aside from Patricia Clarkson (as Brooks' wife) and Noah Emmerich (as Brooks' assistant coach), the main cast of Miracle consists of real-life hockey players, not actors. This adds a great measure of realism to the proceedings, as do the television news flashbacks to a turbulent post-Vietnam America and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan only two months before Lake Placid. The real-life Herb Brooks, sadly, didn't get to see this film; he passed away shortly after principal photography was completed, and Miracle is thus dedicated to him. He would no doubt have been as proud of what this film accomplished on the big screen as what he and his Olympic squad did on the ice all those years ago.