Hard Miles Image

Hard Miles

By Bobby LePire | April 16, 2024

Hard Miles, written and directed by R.J. Daniel Hanna and co-written by Christian Sander, tells the true story of a cycling team. However, these aren’t any old bicyclists; the team is comprised of troubled youth from Ridge View Academy in Colorado. Is there an uplifting message to be found in this tale, or did the real-life tale end tragically?

Greg (Matthew Modine) is an instructor at Ridge View whose big hobby outside of work is bicycling. He believes that the kids under his charge would respect something they made, so he has them build bicycles. Then he trains them on how to marathon ride in preparation for the thousands of miles to the Grand Canyon. The problem is his boss isn’t thrilled with the idea, but thanks to Greg’s co-worker Haddie (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) agreeing to come along as well, the event is given the go-ahead. Helping even further is Speedy (Sean Astin), a bicycle shop owner who sponsors the team. As the journey progresses, Greg’s dedication to the team and his personal growth become more evident, especially in his interactions with the troubled youth.

However, the teens are not exactly thrilled at this idea. Smink (Jackson Kelly) is actually excited but doesn’t listen to all the instructions. Woolbright (Jahking Guillory) is so stubborn he wears baggy clothes just to mess with Greg. Atencio (Damien Diaz) is planning on bolting should the opportunity arise. Rice (Zachary T. Robbins) feels forced into the trek, not understanding its purpose. On the long journey, they encounter sunstroke, hunger, faulty bike mechanics, and medical emergencies. Will they be able to put their differences aside and make it all the way to the Grand Canyon, or are these kids beyond help?

“…trains them on how to marathon ride in preparation for the thousands of miles to the Grand Canyon.”

Hard Miles is a standard kids-in-trouble/sports film, similar to Hardball or Gridiron Gang, to name a few. But familiarity is not a bad thing, as long as the characters are well-written and the story maintains an even tone. Happily, that is the case here. While the teens all have one single issue to overcome, they are a compelling lot. The emotional beats, while expected, are sincere and sweet. Greg’s subplots involving his health and his ailing father add an extra layer to everything.

The acting’s strong from the entire cast. Guillory makes his character more than just a stubborn boy. His speech about always being let down and how people see him is great. Kelly is tons of fun and sells the excitement and danger of the trip well. Diaz’s anger is palpable, while Robbins is actually rather sweet. Astin’s role is small, but he is always a welcome presence. McWilliams is excellent as the tagalong chaperone, bringing a lot of humanity to her part. Modine comes off as robotic at first. However, as the plot progresses, that demeanor fades away as he gets to know the boys better and more of his history and ailments come to light.

Hard Miles is standard fare, but it is well-made. The cinematography is fantastic, capturing the rush of freedom a bike can offer. The score is also a great addition. The cast is solid, and the story is a sweet, engaging affair. Standout moments include the team’s first successful ride in the proper timeframe, the heartwarming interactions between the troubled youth and their mentors, and the breathtaking scenery along the to the Grand Canyon.

Hard Miles (2024)

Directed: R.J. Daniel Hanna

Written: R.J. Daniel Hanna, Christian Sander

Starring: Matthew Modine, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, Jahking Guillory, Jackson Kelly, Zachary T. Robbins, Damien Diaz, Leslie David Baker, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Hard Miles Image

"…the cinematography is fantastic, capturing the rush of freedom a bike can offer."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon