Inspired by the true story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, the British Olympic ski jumper who never stopped believing in himself even when everyone else did, EDDIE THE EAGLE suffers most from being a little too much like the character that it wants to introduce audiences to. An Olympic hopeful who wanted to make it into the 1988 games, but had no aspirations to win any Gold medals, Eddie “the Eagle” really only wanted to do well enough to compete. The resulting film by 20th Century Fox seems to have the same motivations. It really has no interest in being the next ROCKY or RUDY. The filmmakers seem content with just giving us something that is good enough to make it into the theaters, without needing to be any more than that. The result is a very average film that is enjoyable to watch, but never really aspires to reach it’s true potential. Continue reading for more of our EDDIE THE EAGLE movie review.
The film begins it’s retelling of Eddie’s journey early in his life. Although never athletically gifted he has one goal in which he wants to achieve- to make it into the Olympics. After trying his hand at a variety of sports, he eventually settles on downhill skiing. Then, after failing to make the 1984 British Olympics team, he decides to change his focus to the ski jumping competition, something that Britain has never competed in. Having never attempted to participate in the sport of ski jumping, Eddie sets off on his own to learn all that he can about it. Eventually, becoming friends with Bronson Perry, a former Olympian with a past, Eddie begins to train as hard as he can to make his Olympic dreams a reality.
As an inspirational story, the movie seems to be more interested in Eddie’s achievements rather than the details of his real life and this is what holds it back. The great sports movies of the past have succeeded because they understood that the real focus shouldn’t be on the sport itself, but instead on the real human drama created by the people that struggle to do their very best. Director Dexter Fletcher seems content on keeping the focus a little too simple. Never allowing the film to step outside the realm of formulaic, he keeps the movie moving forward through scenes that are so on the nose for a movie of this genre that nothing ever feels fresh or new, just comfortably familiar. Meanwhile, screenwriters Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton keep the story focused on Eddie’s goal to compete, staying away from any real human relationships. This ultimately leaves the character of Eddie with no real dimension, making it hard for us to route for him as he faces the obstacles put in his way.
Taron Egerton who plays Eddie, does his best with the character that he is given. He infuses Eddie with a certain amount of charm and humor that endears us to him, but ultimately the character ends up feeling more fictional then real. Hugh Jackman doesn’t help much either, as he plays the part of the coach (A fictionalized character created for the film) with very little conviction. The writing attempts to add some conflict by giving the character a past, but it ends up feeling too forced and familiar for its own good.
If there is any real emotion in the film, it comes from Jo Hartley and Keith Allen who play Eddie’s parents. Although they’re not in very much of the film, they effectively breathe some real heart into their roles and eventually into the movie. Though the characters are similar to so many we have seen before, the performances are very strong allowing us to really connect with their apposing viewpoints regarding Eddie’s goals, while also allowing the film to have a tiny piece of a personal story.
EDDIE THE EAGLE isn’t a bad film. Audiences will find themselves enjoying the humor and thanks to Egerton, maybe even embracing the character of Eddie a little. Unfortunately, the filmmakers never seem to allow the movie to reach for it’s true potential and instead of creating a film that truly inspires, they have chosen to give moviegoers a story that settles on only being a part of the game.