Director: Dexter Fletcher
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Iris Berben, Tim McInnerny, Mark Benton, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken
Run Time: 106 mins
‘Eddie the Eagle’ is a biopic based on the famous English ski jumper, arguably more famous for his personality than his ability in ski jumping. He was one of Britain’s only ski jumpers and came last in both the 70m and 90m jumps in the Calgary Winter Olympics of 1988 but arguably, he has been remembered more vividly for his personality and his determination than those who won gold. Dexter Fletcher directs this biopic and Matthew Vaughn, behind last year’s outstanding ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ produces this film under MARV films which he owns. Taron Egerton, who also comes from ‘Kingsman’ plays Michael Edwards (‘Eddie the Eagle’) and is supported by Hugh Jackman who plays fictional coach, Bronson Peary.
‘Eddie the Eagle’ is a very well-intentioned and good-natured film that celebrates the mere participation in sport as opposed to merit but unfortunately succumbs to constant conventionality. Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman have great chemistry together here and as many reviewers mention, it is definitely a feel-good film that soars at times like the ski jumper but it’s very by-the-numbers. Matthew Margeson’s score is also fitting at times but comes off a little pantomime-like. Also viewer beware, if you want to watch an accurate account of Eddie the Eagle then this is not the film for you. I’d say roughly 80% of the film is fictionalised except for the groundwork that the film works on. It’s a baffling decision and one that leaves a very sour taste – it’s a ‘true’ story that has been drastically altered for cinematic purposes.
The performances are where the film really excels and both Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman shine here. Taron Egerton plays the titular character as very determined and earnest and his character is suitably well-developed. Egerton has been on a roll lately as he was brilliant in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ and also was one of the highlights of ‘Legend’ in a supporting role. Hugh Jackman plays fictional coach, Bronson Peary, a ski jumper who found success in the past but has now resorted to drinking and moping around. The chemistry of Egerton and Jackman is excellent and really drives the film along. Jo Hartley and Keith Allen play Edwards’ parents and both also share great chemistry with Egerton. Christopher Walken makes a small and slightly odd cameo as Warren Sharp, again a fictionalised character but Walken is one of cinema’s greatest actors that he can elevate anything that he plays in. There is also a small role played by Tim McInnerny who is also always reliable in delivering a good performance.
Fletcher manages to establish a well-suited atmosphere here that like the film, feels a little odd and magical but the film is very engaging at times. All of Edwards’ jumps are shot extremely well and each time, I was on the edge of my seat on whether he was going to hurt himself or not – that is testament to how well the character is developed. Whilst being a little clichéd, the film hails participation in sport as more important than merit which does create a feel-good effect for audiences and the film’s final act is perhaps where at its strongest when he participates in the Olympics and I felt as if I was part of the Olympic audience spectating – the film really can be engaging at times.
However where all the film’s good work is undone is its accuracy. Why, why, why make a movie that is 80% a big lie?!!! He didn’t train in Germany, he trained in America and both Jackman’s and Walken’s character are fictionalised as is also the fact that his father is not shown to be supportive – Edwards’ father in this film is portrayed as quite a challenge for him to get past. I don’t understand why anyone would want to do this and it really leaves a sour taste over a film that is pretty solid.
Overall, ‘Eddie the Eagle’ is a very solid film despite being overly clichéd and by-the-numbers and it’s worth seeing alone for the performances by Egerton and Jackman. At times, the film really works and it is a very easy and light film to watch that does have a good rewatchability factor. But I really don’t understand why the filmmakers have decided to completely botch the real story behind this man and it is a real shame. As a film in its own right, it works but as a sports biopic, it’s wildly inaccurate.