‘Eddie the Eagle’ falls with style

Sean Kelly

[media-credit name=”Screenshot courtesy of Youtube” align=”alignright” width=”336″]eddie the eagle[/media-credit]

He may soar like an eagle, but Eddie Edwards is the ultimate underdog. Based on a true story, “Eddie The Eagle” follows Michael “Eddie” Edwards, played by Taron Egerton, a young man who dreams of participating in the Olympics. Undeterred by his lack of athleticism, Eddie tries and fails at nearly every sport before realizing that the ski jumping position on Britain’s Olympic team is completely vacant. What comes next is a sweet, conventional sports drama about the importance of perseverance, optimism and the competitive spirit.

Starting the sport at 22 years-old, with the proper starting age being six, Eddie is completely unprepared for the brutality of ski jumping. Depending on the height of the jump, wipeouts can lead to bruises, broken bones and even death. This leads to the most impressive aspect of this film; the ski jumps. Watching these scenes makes you feel like you’re performing the stunts yourself. From looking over Eddie’s shoulder at a 90-meter plummet to the spectacular point-of-view shots of the jumps, this film is not for those afraid of heights.

Taron Egerton’s performance as the titular character is another highlight. Through constant setbacks, Egerton conveys the right amount of determination and enthusiasm to make the audience understand why Eddie would want to risk his life for a sport that he lacked relative talent in. The idea that one should strive to perform to the best of his abilities rather than focus on winning or losing is not a new concept, but feels fresh due to Egerton’s beaming positivity.

However, the film relies too heavily on these sport genre clichés to a point where the overall story feels stale. There’s a disgraced, drunken coach, played by Hugh Jackman, a training montage, and teammates that bully the underdog. All have been done before and none do anything to deepen the investment into Eddie’s journey. In particular the backstory of Hugh Jackman’s character, who is completely fictional, involving his relationship with his former coach, seems somewhat phoned in. The fact that the filmmakers forsook the compelling source material to add a fake plotline needlessly confuses the audience of the real experiences Eddie went through.

While Egerton and Jackman have great chemistry, it’s Eddie’s time at the 1988 Calgary Olympics that garners genuine excitement, which unfortunately means that the first half leading up to the games drags with not enough energy to be memorable. It is here where most of the clichés act as filler to a more thrilling second half.

There is nothing particularly bad about “Eddie The Eagle,” though its failure to take risks prevents itself from emulating the inspirational audacity that is Eddie Edwards. Egerton’s performance and chemistry with Hugh Jackman, along with the exhilarating ski jumping scenes elevate this frustratingly safe film to a solid, enjoyable ride.