Chariots of Fire
Posted by martinteller on May 5, 2012
I remember being a kid and seeing the trailers for this movie. That song. You couldn’t escape it, it was everywhere. That tinkly, inspirational Vangelis tune, one of those earworms that is totally cheesy but you can’t deny it’s kinda catchy. That pretty much sums up this film. It satisfies a certain itch, it’s pleasant enough and unoffensive, but it’s pretty damn cheesy. Focusing primarily on two British runners in the 1924 Olympics… Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a Jewish lad with something of a chip on his shoulder, and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a Scottish missionary torn between his faith and his desire to compete. Of the two, Abrahams was more compelling to me, although the potentially promising anti-Semitism angle mostly fizzles out by the halfway point. As for Liddell, he seemed like a nice enough chap but I wasn’t too interested in his Christianity and the problem it creates for him in the competition. People who take such extreme interpretations of the Bible just don’t earn my sympathy.
The execution is basically exactly what you’d expect. Lots of slo-mo, montages, meaningful cutaways, stirring music. It’s a lovely-looking film, though, aided by some nice locations and good attention to art direction. The performances are generally competent, though not exceptional. Cross is slightly better than decent, Ian Holm does what little he can with the crusty trainer role (the Burgess Meredith, if you will), John Gielgud is wasted, Alice Krige is vaguely interesting as Abrahams’ lady. Let’s see, what else? Well, I could have done without all the Gilbert & Sullivan, who I still find annoying. Also, I have to say the races themselves felt a bit anticlimactic.
Anyway, it’s all very rote and not especially inspiring, but it’s not a horrible way to spend two hours. There are just so many better options out there. Heck, you could watch half of Lagaan which is a better sports movie and has killer song and dance in it. Rating: Fair