Review: Miracle Mile

Blu-ray & DVD: Miracle Mile (1988)

Harry Washello (Anthony Edwards) meets Julie Peters (Mare Winningham) and immediately falls for her. When his alarm clock fails to go off, he misses their scheduled date and ends up alone on a street corner in the early hours of the morning. A nearby pay phone begins to ring and he answers it. On the other end of the line is a panicked voice from a military base, telling him that nuclear war has begun and the first missiles will be hitting mainland America in just 70 minutes. Is it a hoax or is it real? If it is real, can he find Julie and get them to safety in time?

Miracle Mile encapsulates the nuclear war hysteria that was prevalent during most of the 1980’s. It seemed as though ‘the big red button’ was going to be pressed at any moment during that decade, and movies such as the nerve shredding Threads (1984) and emotionally draining When The Wind Blows, fanned the constantly burning flames that the world was going to be obliterated.

Beginning almost like a made for television movie, Miracle Mile initially offers nothing too spectacular in terms of acting or narrative. This all changes at the pivotal point of the movie when Harry gets the phone call. A pressure cooker atmosphere is set where the main characters and all around them slowly begin to realise that this just might be really happening. Friendships and relationships are tested to breaking point as panic and paranoia breaks out across the city, ultimately leading to anarchy as shops are looted and innocent bystanders are swept up in the surrounding chaos. Yet despite this escalating madness, director/writer Steve De Jarnatt keeps the focus of the story on Harry and Julie as their embryonic relationship develops under such intense circumstances.

Playing out in real time from the moment of the fateful phone call, Miracle Mile has you looking at the clock for all the right reasons. Certain concessions had to be made to keep things ticking along in real time, but these minor leaps of faith in the story and situations are a small price to pay for the tension that is created. Also forgivable is the 80’s fashion and hairstyles which firmly date it in that most decadent of decades.

Miracle Mile is a ‘slow burner’ and a movie watching experience where you don’t notice your hands gripping your seat ever tighter as the running time ticks away minute by minute, towards a climax that you hope will be a happy one, but never completely sure of the outcome.

This was a movie that I used to own on ex-rental VHS, and if memory serves me correct was always a difficult one to track down. Thankfully I can now watch it on this excellent release from Arrow Films, complete with their usual high standard of special features. I encourage you to do the same.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original English stereo soundtrack (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New video interview with writer/director Steve De Jarnatt
  • Audio commentary by Steve De Jarnatt
  • Audio commentary by Steve De Jarnatt, cinematographer Theo van de Sande and production designer Chris Horner
  • Julie & Harry, an interview with actors Mare Winningham and Anthony Edwards
  • Supporting cast and crew reunion featurette
  • The Music of Tangerine Dream, an interview with co-composer Paul Haslinger
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • Rubiaux Rising, a short story read by Steve De Jarnatt
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tim Lucas.
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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.