Eddie the Eagle
Starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Jim Broadbent
With back to back films focusing on unconventional sports journey’s to the Olympics, “Eddie the Eagle” stands out, not only because of its whimsical British charm, but focusing on a misfit or underdog. Following his introductory turn last year as an action star in “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, 26-year-old Taron Egerton is making all the right career moves. He’s already played Alicia Vikander’s brother in “Testament of Youth” and Tom Hardy’s boyfriend in “Legend”, now adding a new facet to his growing resume, and his best performance yet. “Eddie the Eagle” will be a huge hit in Britain, but the lack of information on Eddie Edwards in the States could provide American audiences with quite a compelling suspense story, despite the fictional elements to the movie.
As a child, Eddie (Egerton) had dreams of being an Olympian. He held his breath for 58 seconds in the bathtub, and decided at age 7 he was ready. Through his childhood, Eddie battled with bad knees, resulting in a leg brace until puberty. His dreams of Olympic glory changed over the years from diving, to hurling, to skiing and finally ski jumping. A lapsed rule in England’s Olympic qualifying requirements afforded Eddie the opportunity to represent his country as a ski jumper for the first time since 1929. With the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary just around the corner, Eddie makes his way to Germany where he meets disgraced Olympic ski jumper Bronson Peary (Jackman). Peary finally agrees to help the determined lad, mostly out of pity and because he doesn’t want the British lad to fatally injure himself on the 90m jump.
Egerton charms us into caring for this character and more importantly, what he stands for.
“Eddie the Eagle” doesn’t present a new formula on the sports film, actually the narrative follows the Oscar nominated film “Creed”, as well as others where the underdog convinces the former champion to help. It’s the odds against Eddie, the bullying he faces in the film, the disparaging remarks, even from his father that make this such an inspirational story of triumph. Sure the screenwriters have retooled the actually story, but the purpose of this film is to inspire those born without natural ability, with more ambition than strength. Egerton’s portrayal of Eddie is reminiscent of what Tom Hanks did with “Forrest Gump” or Ryan Gosling with “Lars and the Real Girl”. Egerton plays the role with facial expressions that naturally twist and contort his face, always expressing his discomfort or mulling of his situation.
Sound effects during the many tumbles are excruciating. The film does an excellent job at building sympathy for Eddie, to the point it’s hard to watch him continually get hurt and fail. Matthew Margeson’s original score is quite effective poring on the emotion we feel for Eddie. It’s that very emotion that seals the deal with this film, as Egerton charms us into caring for this character and more importantly, what he stands for. Director Dexter Fletcher keeps the audience fully engages by subplots with Eddie’s hilariously loving parents, Oscar winner Jim Broadbent as the Olympic announcer, and even Oscar winner Christopher Walken as Peary’s former mentor. This role might not require a lot of effort from Oscar nominee Jackman, after all he is playing another version of Wolverine, yet he is perfectly cast and endearing as the drunken coach.
Eddie the Eagle is the first must see film of 2016.