Film Review : Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile

When chaos kicks off, it’s time to survey the area!

The 1980’s were the peak of nuclear war films, but having just been released on Blu Ray, the real-time thriller Miracle Mile does more than most with a great cast, a small budget and plenty of tension.

Released : 1988

Run time : 1 hr 27 mins

The Premise

A man picks up a pay phone hoping its his date he’d just phoned from there but instead discovers that nuclear missile is heading straight for Los Angles and where he is situated.

The Disasters Faced

Nukes, anyone with a gun, dodgy helicopter pilots, power cuts, Valium and a pyromaniac pigeon.

The Execution

Full of its 1980’s style, the only thing that’s dated is the hair and massive mobile phone in a suitcase. The story itself holds up today, as when faced with an impossible escape, how far would you go to get away from certain death? Harry and Julie have not long met and enjoyed a day together but as two loners in a false world, they depend on each other to survive as the seventy minutes before the nukes hit unfold in near real-time. It’s a tension cranked production that starts off in denial and then turns to confusion, frantic action and violence and beyond as humanity is stripped down to its core survival instincts. Director and Writer Steve De Jarnett only made two movies, but he has a keen eye for making the most out of a location and the drama involved in it. Paired with excellent acting and a “spot the cameo” side cast, Miracle Mile is a tightly made sub 90 minute disaster movie.

Miracle Mile

Reenacting a child’s game is probably not best when escaping a nuke, but its faster than carrying her

The Effects

Whilst on a low-budget, the main finale carnage set piece is still really well put together with cars crashing, crowds rioting and general chaos ensuing. There’s some other really good set pieces too and the fact you can tell that it’s all taking place on an actual real town location gives everything an extra layer of realism.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Miracle Mile is a film I’d pair with Last Night in terms of tone, pace and human touch. Both have different people reacting to the end of their lives in a variety of ways. Some with acceptance, some with black humour and others who won’t go down fighting. It’s always fascinating to see how humanity and society falls apart and Miracle Mile deals with that well as we drift in and out of other people’s’ own escapes and thoughts. It helps that you are rooting for general all round nice couple Harry and Julie too, as well as some of their oddball friends. There’s also so many bit parts from faces you’ll know from other films of the era, mostly with a comedian background and that gives the film its own unique flavour. The cinematography also catches the sunrise in LA beautifully in what must have been a nightmare to shoot continuity wise. Mostly though, this is just a fabulously put together story because you’re in the dark as much as the characters are. All the drama is taking place and escalating because of a phone call. There’s a section when things are getting increasingly out of control where the couple question what if it’s all a hoax and they’ve created all this mess? It’s a lose/lose scenario.

Drinking Game

Spot all those cameos… or simply… wowzer, technology has really changed!

Miracle Mile still

Whilst there’s plenty going on, Miracle Mile’s focus on characters and what drives them is what makes the movie a winner

Weirdest Moment

Julie’s parents haven’t spoken for years and their story resolution is so simply wrapped up and bowed, it’s the single jolt of awkwardness in the film that is sincere and sweet, but also a bit clunky too.

Favourite Character

Danny De La Paz as the transvestite is superbly cynical across the whole thing.

Random Trivia

Miracle Mile is what the area around the La Brea Tar Pits is called in real life, and since the film takes place around that location, the films name makes sense. Also catch out the director himself in a cameo as a guy being shot and face-planting on the sewer grate!

Conclusion

A perfect brother to Last Night in the “End of the World” last hours style of movie. It’s became a bit of a cult movie over time and I can completely see why. It holds up really well, its story is every bit as relevant today and it will leave you gut punched by the time your done.

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