It was so nice to leave the cinema with a smile on my face; a feeling of nothing but satisfaction and feel-good vibes from watching a story that featured no violence, no sex or foul language and no complicated, dreary narrative and filled with ropey CGI. Based on the true story of infamous British underdog Eddie Edwards, this is a feel-good movie that has been crafted with real warmth and understanding of both the source and the audience.
We’ve seen the underdog story before; notably in ‘Rocky’. But we haven’t seen once that fills us with as much triumph and warmth since, until now. Director Dexter Fletcher doesn’t break the mould with his story, but he does present it to us in a bright, cheery and family-friendly way that relies on great humour, exceptional performances and a super blend of cinematography, music and editing that makes this one big bundle of fun lasting just over 100mins. With a toe-tapping 80s soundtrack, this really has the look and feel of the decade along with authentic costume design and set replication of both Great Britain, Germany and Calgary to take you right into the heart of the action.
Rising star Taron Egerton encapsulates Eddie perfectly; his innocence, his determination, his physicality – all without coming over as a lampoon. He shows us Eddie’s eccentric side, but does so with an equal amount of determination, heart and compassion that does nothing but has us invest in one man’s dream to be a success. Something so few films do nowadays; give us an underdog and let us take a journey with them. I can’t wait to see more of this charming actor and his talent.
Supported by Hugh Jackman, who is brilliant to see away from his Wolverine character, shows he can play with a great deal of comic and dramatic flair to be a rock for Egerton’s Eddie as he plays a fictional ski-jump coach, but nevertheless plays a vital role in pushing the narrative forward and being someone I can easily believe in. With solid co-stars like Tim McInnerny, Keith Allen, Iris Berben and even Christopher Walken along for the fun, we are in good hands here with characters we can recognise maybe from our own lives – those who believe in us and those who don’t, and those who we want to impress.
From the off, the humour is very good-natured and full of heart, with no slap-stick gags or jokes thankfully. As stated before, it’s a family friendly film that focuses on strong storytelling and character development rather than swearing or violence of any form. In this era where most films and surrounded in such elements to sell more seats, it’s a nice change of pace to see something as much fun as this. I guess my only quarm is I am not too sure what is fiction and what is fact, bar the start and end, and how much actually happened and what was fabricated for entertainment. However because it’s done so well and so light-hearted, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.
And the ski-jumping itself is rather exciting; it’s not something you see used in film every day and so the shots of our actors/stunt-doubles/CGI dolls racing down the vertigo inducing jump and launching into the unknown never gets old, because each time the pressure increases and you never know if they will land without breaking a bone or two. It certainly had me holding my breath a few times, and cheering and wincing as the highs and lows of the Olympic sport was played out.
And even though most audiences will know the story of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and his infamous time as an Olympian, the way the story explores him and his journey will have you willing him to succeed, even though you know he probably won’t. But even then, the sense of triumph against the odds and having that will to push yourself and try your best is a classic morality story that never fails to stir the desire to win in us all against the odds.