EDDIE THE EAGLE
Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), is an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stops believing in himself - even as an entire nation is counting him out. With the help of rebellious and charismatic coach Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Louise Keller:
It's a terrific true story and an inspiring one - about a young boy who dreams of becoming an Olympian. But although the film's heart is in the right place, it struggles to soar to the heights that it deserves. Taron Egerton's mannered performance in the central role is the first problem and while it may accurately represent an impression of the real Eddie Edwards, it never resonates truthfully. Egerton overplays it badly, which distances his character from us. Or perhaps we simply do not warm to him. The fact that this is the directing debut for actor Dexter Fletcher may also be a contributing factor. On the plus side, there is Hugh Jackman, who can spit out this kind of role for breakfast. As a consequence, the film is a yin yang affair with elements that could be better served.
In the early scenes (in 1973 and 1987), we meet Eddie at young ages, showing his determination to become an Olympic athlete. Unfazed by opinions that he will never be Olympic material, we follow his progress as he pursues various sports until he discovers Ski Jumping. It is in Germany that he meets Jackman's Bronson Peary, a formidable talent whose talent and daredevil approach to the sport years ago is countered by the fact his focus was "not only on the mountain." Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton's screenplay follows a predictable trajectory and feels somewhat compartmentalised. It is a shame that Jackman is not given more to work with - we are never given an insight into why Peary makes his choices and how booze and women become his downfall.
Jo Hartley is warm as Eddie's devoted mother and the father/son relationship has an effective pay off. The best scenes are those between Egerton and Jackman as the relationship between the two men develops. This forms the foundation for the film's emotional heart, which blossoms in the climactic scenes at Calgary during the 1988 Olympics. I have to admit, I have never really thought much about ski jumping, and the film does bring this extraordinary sport to the fore. The scenes that offer an insight into the challenge that skiers face as they venture down a 90metre slope are thrilling (although not thrilling enough), while the gorgeous snowy alpine setting is a bonus. Jim Broadbent (complete with plum-in-mouth voice) is a welcome addition as a sports commentator, while Christopher Walken's cameo is worth the wait.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Brits are usually noted for understatement, something this film could have employed to its credit. The inspirational story - with many echoes of Billy Elliot - is adapted into a mawkish attempt at a hero's journey, and undermined by a characterisation of the genuine Eddie Edwards by a terrible miscalculation on the director's part to encourage / allow Taron Egerton to try and mimic the large Edwards chin - by jaw jutting. It is not only distracting but embarrassingly foolish.
It's not the only thing overdone, and is par for the directorial course as Dexter Fletcher follows the plodding, by the numbers screenplay of Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton and emphasises its hollowness. Likewise the score, which feels dated - not as in period appropriate, but clunky.
Although I am sure the screenplay (based on the true story) follows the events, it presents the mean-spirited British Olympic Association committee and Olympic team as cruel idiots from some pantomime. Likewise the international skiers who scoff at Edwards. He has only his mum for a supporter, until his determination wins over the old pro (Hugh Jackman) who has adopted a grog flask as his permanent 'jacket' to shied him from the cold of failure.
Jackman does well, constrained as he is by the direction, and saves the film from utter boredom; in his rare moments on screen, Jim Broadbent does likewise as the radio commentator, while Christopher Walken does a terrific walk-on job in a tiny but important cameo. Eddie The Eagle finds it hard to fly while walking with turkeys.
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EDDIE THE EAGLE (PG)
CAST: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnerny, Rune Ternte, Edvin Endre, Jo Hartley, Daniel Westwood, Ania Sowinski, Lasco Atkins, Daniel Ings and Christopher Walken
PRODUCER: Adam Bohling, Rupert Maconick, David Reid, Valerie Van Gelder, Matthew Vaughn
DIRECTOR: Dexter Fletcher
SCRIPT: Sean Macaulay, Simon Kelton
CINEMATOGRAPHER: George Richmond
EDITOR: Martin Walsh
MUSIC: Matthew Margeson
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mike Gunn
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 21, 2016