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(Review originally written at 25 November 2008)

I'm actually quite fond of sport movies and have a weak spot for it, no matter how formulaic they all are. Lots of them are the same, even though they concentrate on totally different sports. This movie is also like that but with as a difference that it also features some very sloppy and simplistic storytelling, which makes the movie seems like a totally unoriginal and uninspiring movie.

The movie actually does have an original sports story, after all it's about the man who was the first to run the mile under the 4 minute mark and he developed some new training techniques to achieve this but yet the movie and its story do not work out very original because the movie decides more to feature all kinds of different less interesting sidetracks, such as on Bannister's love life. It basically features all of the clich├ęs from the book, which causes this movie to not work out as the most original or inspiring one the genre has to offer.

Not that it is an horrible movie, it still is a maintaining one but it also feels like a waste of such a fine and original sports story. After all, it's all based on real events and real life persons.

The story also doesn't flow very well and feels quite sloppy at times. This is mostly due to the fact that the movie tries to tell too much in a too short amount of time. The movie is only like 95 minutes short but yet it tries to put Bannister's whole athletics career into the movie. This also causes the movie its story to progress in an highly unlikely movie. I mean, just because he ran well once during a school event he's being labeled as a great talent and shortly after it he already runs the Olympics. Like I said, it all happens too fast and sudden because of it that the story tries to tell and achieve too much in a too limited time span. It causes the movie to make some big leaps at times and because of this it partly fails to bring over the story of Bannister's groundbreaking achievement in the '50's.

Further more it's obvious that the movie didn't had a big budget to spend. It's a made for TV movie, which means that the movie features some simple film-making. Nothing is out of the extraordinary and at times the movie decides not to show any of the races (such as the Olympic run), which obviously got done because of budgeting reasons and because it was virtually impossible for this movie with its limited resources to recreate an Olympics event from the past.

The acting is quite good, though Jamie Maclachlan isn't the most charismatic actor. My guess is that he got picked because he looked like the real Roger Bannister, rather than that he got picked for having the best acting skills. But it needs to be said that the movie doesn't handle his character always well. For instance, in the beginning he is still a shy young man, who blushes when a girl even looks at him but later on he's a real player who uses cheesy lines and actions to get the girl he likes. And by the way, his looks also don't exactly makes it very likely that these type of girls as shown in the movie would ever fall for such a man like Bannister. Just one of the silly and unlikely aspects of this movie.

The movie does get better though when it heads towards its ending, to its inevitable world record attempt. But here also lies a problem, you already know in advance that he is going to achieve to run under the 4 minutes mark. So despite the film-makers good efforts, the last run doesn't really work out that exciting and the tension that gets build up seems completely redundant.

It's not a movie that I hated watching, it certainly is maintaining enough but as a sports movie it simply is not original or inspiring enough.

6/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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