Eddie the Eagle
Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle tells the story of Olympic ski jumper Eddie Edwards who achieved his dream of competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
I don’t know much about the real Eddie Edwards so I don’t know how true to life this film is but that doesn’t really matter in the context of a story being told. It’s fairly standard fare as far as sports movies go in terms of storytelling. Eddie (Taron Egerton) is an underdog with no realistic chance of competing at Olympic level but his indomitable spirit allows him to keep picking himself up after each failure and keep trying to achieve his dreams.
He is helped on his quest by disgraced former ski jumping champion Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) who spends his day drinking and looking at the world cynically. Naturally Eddie’s enthusiasm rubs off on him and an unlikely friendship blossoms around the mentor/mentee relationship. I really enjoyed the scenes of Egerton and Jackman together as their friendship felt real and much of the dialogue was really funny. Bronson Peary is essentially the opposite of Eddie Edwards but they each learn a lot from the other. None of it is anything new but it’s a lot of fun all the same.
As typical as all this is it’s hard to fault as it is all handled competently. Taron Egerton’s performance as Eddie is incredible. It’s a far cry from the handsome and confident Eggsy from Kingsman: The Secret Service. He proves himself to have real range with this role showing the confidence with a measure of awkwardness nicely. Many laughs come from the naive understanding he has of the world and Egerton has the comedic chops to make the audience laugh at just the right time with a well timed thumbs up or vacantly optimistic expression. This actor is definitely one to watch I’d say.
Hugh Jackman is what you’d expect from Hugh Jackman at this point. He’s charismatic, likable, a bit arrogant and rough around the edges. His character arc can be spotted a mile off but Jackman’s performance completely sells it. It’s entertaining to see his dynamic with Egerton evolve over the course of the film and there’s real sincerity to all of the regrets he clearly has in his life weighing him down. He starts off not caring about personal redemption then ends up on that path anyway and I was rooting for him all the way. I genuinely can’t fault Hugh Jackman in anything I’ve seen him in. This character could easily have been by the numbers and in many ways he is but Jackman elevates the material so far above what is on the page.
The story is reasonably well paced with a clear goal in mind throughout. Fans of sports movies will be glad to know there are montages set to music and incremental improvement as time goes on. There’s the usual near spiritualism that comes with fictional characters gaining an understanding of the sport so that they can get good at it as well. I know these aren’t strictly fictional characters but the narrative behaves as if they are which works really well.
Being afraid of heights I found the jumps difficult to watch. This was especially true with the first person shots of what Eddie sees as he clears the ramp so kudos to the cinematography for making me feel uneasy without the use of 3D. It really helps to convey the sense of fear and dread that must have been filling Eddie as he waited to see if the jump would land or not. There are a lot of jumps featured in the film designed to create the impression of what doing this might be like and it works really well. I also found the anticipation of the landings to be really tense which is a testament to the strength of the characterisation as well as the visual setup of the jumps. There are a lot of nail biting moments in there, especially if you have a fear of heights.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack as well. It really sets the time period of the 80s well and the music used is effective at setting the tone of a given scene. When this is combined with the overall look of the film down to the locations and costumes it all feels like what I imagine the 1980s felt like.
Some of the storytelling is a little clunky such as the opening showing a young Eddie dealing with his medical issue of “dodgy knees”. The film speeds over this part without it having any real consequences later in the film. I feel that this was probably longer and was cut but personally I would have been happy starting with adult Eddie and spending more time exploring his motivation to be an Olympic athlete. The film is also no stranger to cheesy motivational dialogue that starts to grate after a while.
A competently made film with memorable performances from Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman. It’s nothing new in terms of inspirational sports movies but the strong acting and writing elevate it beyond feeling by the numbers. The visualisations of the various jumps are tense and exciting and the It sets the era of the late 1980s really well with the look as well as the soundtrack. Some cheesy motivational dialogue and a slow opening bring things down slightly but it’s generally an enjoyable experience.
- Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman’s enjoyable performances
- the excellent visualisation of the dangerous jumps
- a great soundtrack and overall look that sets the time period nicely
- some clunky motivational dialogue
- a slow opening