Film / Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile is a 1988 apocalyptic thriller written and directed by Steve De Jarnatt (Cherry 2000).

Harry (Anthony Edwards) makes a date with Julie (Mare Winningham), but his alarm clock fails to ring and he oversleeps. Instead, Harry receives an anonymous phone call, and the panicked caller tells him that nuclear strikes have been ordered, and all-out nuclear war will begin within the hour.

The call turns out to be a wrong number, the caller is interrupted by someone else who tells him it was a joke as gunfire is heard in the background, and Harry is left wondering whether the news is legitimate. The remainder of the film is spent more or less in Real Time as Harry looks for Julie, tries to confirm the news, and wonders what to do next.

Miracle Mile provides examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: Class 1; if the voice on the phone is telling the truth, much of the United States and Soviet Union are dead.
  • Cold War: Possibly giving way to World War III.
  • Deadline News: The newscast about "reports of a nuclear attack" cuts to a reporter on the streets who gets shot in the next 10 seconds. The cameraman is also shot; and technically even the anchorman will be this once the bombs drop.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: Sure the streets are going to get packed. But that won't happen right now, Harry could've been able to get to the airport on a car without a problem for most of the time.
  • For Want of a Nail: If his alarm clock had rung, Harry would have been out with Julie and wouldn't have gotten the phone call. Harry realizes this in the third act, and wonders why he couldn't just have found out like everybody else.
    • If Julie had just waited for Harry at the heliport, they would've made it to the airport with time to spare.
    • Even earlier, Harry could've simply waited for Julie's parents to take them to the airport. The streets don't get packed until the last 15 minutes.
  • Genre Shift From Romantic Comedy to apocalyptic drama. It even manages to mislead the audience, as the first scenes are shown as if happening in the future, with Harry having lost Julie.
  • Genre Savvy: The diner's owner. He wastes no time loading up on canned goods, and floors it to the airport. He doesn't let Harry go for Julie because he knows that anyone else would immediately ask to pick up their loved ones as well, sending them all into a Fetch Quest, losing valuable time. This is, in fact, what happens to Harry; everyone he asks for help will inevitably want to pick up someone else. Harry loses a lot of time because of this.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The film starts as an ordinary romance between two quirky young adults, until Harry gets the phone call.
  • Hope Spot: The helicopter to safety.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The home video cover pretty much gives away that the call is real.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog / Downer Ending: Harry and Julie spend most of the movie trying to get to safety. They don't make it; their helicopter is affected by the EMP and crashes in the La Brea Tar Pits. Cue credits.
  • Unreliable Expositor: The anonymous caller.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The film is told entirely from Harry's perspective, so we never find out what happened to the other diner patrons or staff. When the car thief reappears near the end, he's clearly had an adventure as crazy as Harry's but he dies before he can explain what happened to him.