Besides a certain Jamaican Bobsleigh team, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta are best remembered for one, plucky competitor. A man who faced near insurmountable odds, under the harshest conditions in one of the most dangerous sports in order to break British Ski Jumping records, and come last place in both the 70m and 90m events. That man was Michael “Eddie The Eagle” Edwards, and for a brief moment, he stood as a shining example of an Olympian who teetered on the edges of respect and ridicule.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher and produced by Matthew Vaughn, there is a uniquely celebratory tone to this underdog tale that could have only blossomed in the hearts and minds of British storytellers. Entirely lacking in cynicism or sneer, Eddie The Eagle is about as uplifting and jubilant as a sporting feature should dare to be. Although comedic in tone, the dramatic tension offers an angle one rarely considers when remembering one of sports most memorable losers.
In a chameleon-like turn, Kingsman’s Taron Egerton utterly becomes the titular legend. From his physical mannerisms and accent, right down to his vocal cadence, we see this representation of a determined spirit manifest. The beauty of both the performance and the screenplay is that the humour never pokes fun at Eddie; more applauds his will and single-mindedness. This is a film that (at the very least) will keep you smiling throughout its 105-minute runtime, interspersed with laughs, gasps and perhaps even a tear or two in its final moments. I struggle to remember a motion picture that champions the pure of heart as much as Eddie The Eagle does.
As for the jumps themselves, the seamless marriage of 2nd Unit photography, stunt-work and visual effects blur the technical lines so one is never blatantly aware of one trick or another. The strength of this is that the audience becomes invested in the visual storytelling, instead of an awareness of optical “slight of hand”.
Eddie The Eagle is an unashamedly feel-good movie with a cracking cast and outstanding soundtrack, featuring a wealth of retro classics and songs created especially for the film from the likes of Heaven 17, Howard Jones, Marc Almond, Kim Wilde, Tony Hadley and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Holly Johnson. See it in cinemas, bop along to the songs (curated by Gary Barlow) and eventually watch it at home along with Cool Runnings for that ultimate Winter Olympics ’88 underdog double-bill!
Eddie The Eagle opens in the UK on March 28th
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