As someone who has watched the Winter Olympics for twenty years and has been watching sports in general for perhaps a little bit longer than that, it would have been difficult to have not heard about the United States Olympic Hockey Team from 1980. You know, the one that shockingly beat the dominant Soviet team, a Soviet team so strong it was beating the NHL All Stars in exhibition games. I knew this, but I didn't really understand. "Miracle" is the story of the 1980 team and follows the team from the formation to the conclusion at the Lake Placid Olympics.
We open with coach Herb Brooks (a nearly unrecognizable Kurt Russell) talking to a group of me, probably the US Olympic Committee about his vision for the squad and how he would like to form the team. He doesn't want to pick the best players, he wants to pick the best team. He knows this is the only way to have a chance against the Soviets who work so well as a team against the All Star Teams which are made up of individuals. Making the players into a team will be a challenge, one which is suggested throughout the movie as Coach Brooks asks the players their name and what team they play for and the players give their names and then their college (University of Minnesota, Boston College, University of Wisconsin, etc). It is easy to tell what answer Brooks is going for and not going and it is a bit later in the film that Brooks gets the answer he wants and that the viewer knows is a key turning point.
One would think that knowing exactly how the movie has to end would rob "Miracle" of dramatic tension. Somehow the director is able to make the viewer doubt that this team really is good enough to win in the Olympics at all, let alone to face the mighty Soviet squad which had won the previous four Gold medals for Hockey. Even when we get to the Gold Medal match is the ending in doubt. The US may have won their previous games, but these are the mighty Soviets. So much credit has to go to the filmmakers, the actors, the director, and the editor for cutting this film together in such a way that even knowing the ending does not lessen the impact of the ending, the emotion of the ending.
It is clear that I like this movie. It is a "feel good" movie in the best sense of the phrase because it isn't sappy and sweet, but a hard played game that brought out the best in the players and the underdog (which the United States is not used to being) is able to come out on top in the end.