Miracle Mile (1988) Review

Miracle Mile is a cinematic oddity. Although you may never have heard of it the film was legendary in Hollywood for 10 years and in 1983 American Film magazine named it on of the top ten unmade screenplays. Writer Steve De Jarnatt spent years trying to get it developed at various studios but he always met the same issue, everyone wanted to change the ending.

When you learn that Miracle Mile is a romantic comedy adventure set in LA on the eve of a nuclear war you may understand why De Jarnatt met with so many issues. Finally, after he bought the script back for himself to direct and secured a budget, Miracle Mile transferred from page to screen exactly as De Jarnatt had intended – without compromise. And its all the better for it.

The story revolves around Harry (Anthony Edwards from Zodiac and Top Gun) an everyday guy who falls madly in love with Julie (American Horror Story’s Mare Winningham) and is willing to do anything to spend the rest of his life with her.

However, when Harry misses a late night date with Julie through a series of accidents, he rushes to the diner she works at finding himself alone at 4am with a bunch of drunks, weirdos and regulars who populate the restaurant. Going to the pay phone to apologise, he instead receives a crazed wrong call from a guy in a missile silo attempting to contact his father.

The frantic voice seems to say America is locked into launching its nuclear missiles leading to an equal retaliation from whoever it is they are attacking in less than 70 minutes and the end of all life as we know it.

Dazed and confused Harry doesn’t believe the voice at first but this changes when he hears the kid pleading to a superior followed by gunfire and a military man taking over the call simply saying ‘forget everything you heard and go back to sleep.’

Reentering the diner he attempts to tell the randomly assembled patrons about the impending apocalypse. Some of them think he is mad but some seem more convinced including Landa (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Denise Crosby) a business woman with high level political contacts who confirms the story could in fact be true.

As pandemonium descends on everyone in the immediate vicinity who believe they have a head start before the news breaks to the masses Harry becomes caught up in a race against time to collect the love of his life and make it back to Landa’s helicopter in time to escape to the airport and Antarctica.

A precursor to 2012’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and taking the same dark romantic comedic look at Armageddon, Miracle Mile blends an action-packed, real-time rush for survival with drama, romance and social comment. This is mixed in a chaotic cacophony set to a Tangerine Dream soundtrack, all of which somehow works.

At the center of everything is the feeling of desperation and the need in all humans to save those closest to them which comes across again and again as everyone Harry tells about the upcoming nuclear war ask for time to get a loved one to come with them.

Veering like the stolen police car Harry commandeers between touching moments of true love, comedic chaos, all out action and some very upsetting scenes, Miracle Mile perfectly encapsulates the anarchy an apocalyptic event would have both externally and internally. Its effect on humanity and the ending, unchanged from De Jarnatt original script, is as moving and powerful as the nuclear blasts.

Perhaps even more potent and pertinent now than a few years back – given the current climate in Trump’s US of A – Miracle Mile is a strange discordant movie straight out of left-field. It might not work for all audiences, but for all those gifted with an unbiased view and a dark sense of humor you should give it a go as it may just blow your mind.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Trailer:

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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