It may be a typical underdog tale but this one does flap and ultimately soar like an eagle thanks to a persistent and likeable figure to root for, motivational music and neat directing to round everything off with a great landing.
Based on the real life Eddie Edwards, this movie follows Eddie (Taron Egerton) from childhood to his 20’s as he never gives up on the dream of becoming an Olympian. Travelling to Germany to practice ski-jumping he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) a former jumper who helps Edwards hone his technique, even if the upcoming 1988 Winter Olympics may see him out of his depth, they won’t stop trying.
I think everywhere but especially so in Great Britain, we love a trier. An underdog is something most of us connect to and wholly root for because it’s exciting to see someone not usually great do great things. Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is that trier and though he finished last in every jump, he set British records and showed that following your dream is the way forward. I’m glad this film came about because in a way, past all the cliches, it is an inspiring story.
Dexter Fletcher directs this movie in the way you’d expect for a sporting and underdog narrative but there’s an undeniable energy and frightening look in the build up to the increasing heights of each jump. There’s also the well worked boundless if naive enthusiasm Eddie has for taking on each new challenge. Fletcher manages to make the film feel sweet in us caring for Eddie but then he also makes sure there’s an English comedy to laughing at the fall guy, so we are always on both sides of the man which actually triumphs and never forces us to stick to one side.
Sean Macaulay’s screenplay may gloss over more of the unorthodox looks of Eddie’s jumps and paint him as a bigger hero and hey, he invents Bronson Peary too, which was something annoying to find out, why create a coach when he had two anyway. Though, saying this it is a compact story that sticks true to that British, almost ‘Billy Elliot’ like tone in having us follow someone out of the crowd wanting to do their thing. Macaulay does a fine job in having comedy too, making it okay for us to smile and laugh at the absurdity of this bespectacled Brit hurling himself off slopes.
There’s a great sporting sound to Matthew Margeson’s music, as if pulsing with a stadium-esque rhythm to heighten the actions that Eddie takes. It’s quick and energetic which does a fantastic job in making it feel entertaining. The soundtrack too is perfect with Hall and Oates and Frankie Goes to Hollywood being just two of the artists that pulsate over scenes. Bolero even gets its slot adding a comedic touch to goings on.
Taron Egerton may as well be Eddie, because now he’s donned the thick glasses and sported a nasty small moustache, he looks spot on as the man he’s portraying. Then there’s the brilliant movements in his face; squints and gurning and Egerton’s delivery working so well in making Eddie appear like a fool, yet one we can’t help but idolise. Hugh Jackman steps into the bolshy boots of a drunken past it athlete as you’d expect, mostly being Jackman but being the supportive talent to Egerton’s spotlight. Keith Allen and Jo Hartley are wonderful as Eddie’s parents, Keith being grouchy and the typical heyday father wanting his son to be a plasterer balanced out by the sweet caring love shown by Hartley as supportive mum.
Not even hiding how British this film is works wonders, skiing past the clichéd story-telling and lifting off to endearing heights makes this an easy-going and inspiring watch.