(US); 2000; Rated PG-13; 124 Minutes
Chris O'Donnell: Peter Garrett
Bill Paxton: Elliot Vaughn
Robin Tunney: Annie Garrett
Scott Glenn: Montgomery Wick
Izabella Scorupco: Monique Aubertine
Temuera Morrison: Major Rasul
Stuart Wilson: Boyce Garrett
Produced by Martin Campbell, Robert King, Amy Lescoe,
Mike Medavoy, Marcia Nasatir, Phil Patterson, Lloyd Phillips;
Directed by Martin Campbell; Screenwritten by
Robert King and Terry Hayes
by DAVID KEYES
art of rock climbing is one of the most demanding and treacherous
undertakings available to us as adventurers, in which every
obstacle, every sound and every movement is an innuendo
to a clouded outcome. Even the world's most experienced
mountain daredevils are at high risk of losing their lives;
every year, countless rock climbers tread the slopes of
steep mountains with treacherous inclines, and never live
long enough to tell of their nail-biting experiences. And
yet why do we, year after year, continue to scale the world's
great rock giants like Mt. Everest, taking the risk of putting
a halt to our own existence? The challenge of something
that is seemingly hopeless to conquer fills us with the
adrenaline and audacity of a large fantasy warrior who keeps
swinging his sword, but may never have the power to ultimately
take down the dragon.
Limit," the newest from Martin Campbell (also known for
the brilliant swashbuckling adventure "The Mask Of Zorro"),
is a movie made for that breed of audience, a tense and
foreboding endeavor that combines skill, danger, surprise
and catastrophe in one of the most effective ways I've seen
lately. Much more watchable than the disappointment of "The
Perfect Storm" from this last summer, the picture does what
few in its position might have done: gazes down at the world
from ferocious heights, fearless of the impending dangers
that surround and consume its characters. If only we could
say the same words for the audience members, who will no
doubt be left deadlocked by the sight of large cliff sides
looking down to valleys miles below. Words to the weary:
if you are afraid of heights, prepare to face a challenge.
opening scene featuring the death of a father of two hanging
siblings immediately establishes that tone (don't mind the
fact that it echoes the opening shot of "Cliffhanger," though).
The two in discussion are Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell)
and Annie (Robin Tunney), brother and sister who have gone
their own separate ways after the day they saw their dad
drop to his death on a mountain climb in Utah. Peter, however,
is forced to face his demons when his sister Annie is buried
high on the slopes of the Himalayan mountain K-2 because
of an avalanche, along with a millionaire and a tour guide
by her side. The situation gives the trapped individuals
48 hours before the conditions take their lives, and with
only less than half of those hours to go, Peter puts together
an assemblage of climbers at the base of the mountain to
help him go up and retrieve the three individuals before
nature claims their lives.
the brisk landscapes look as realistic as possible to you,
that's because they are. Filmed mostly on location at Mt.
Cook in the beautiful New Zealand rather than entirely on
sets, the movie attains a vivid, hard-edged atmosphere that
propels the viewer onto the screen and directly into the
frigid and risky situations. We can imagine the difficulty
for the technicians and actors themselves, who, as reports
claim, are often suspended by cables high above the mountain
base in order to carry out the duty of making the film look
and feel as authentic as possible. But in ways this is the
most necessary approach, not only because it forces onset
individuals to face their own fears, but also because it
preserves the sense of realism for the audiences. Filming
on a set in which actors would only have to stare at blue
screens would likely lead to overblown stunt work and undermine
the reality of the situation.
saddling the thrilling action sequences, however, is a story
that is more routine and obvious than one will hope for.
Acting more like a checklist of clichés than an exhibition
of complete creativity, the movie shamelessly rips off ideas,
formulas and even specific twists for its own personal agenda.
This can be distracting to those in search of an intriguing
plot, because while they're busy weighing all the similarities
to movies with parallel base themes, the visual fanfare
is likely being ignored, and perhaps at some very crucial
moments of the movie. Many of us have begun to accept the
fact that disaster pictures will probably never give us
the full unconventional package, but until the day that
filmmakers at least attempt one, movies like "Vertical Limit"
will probably always fall under the scope of style outranking
the end, however, this one has something over most of the
recent nature-as-the-enemy features: it is neither boring
nor uninteresting. Those are big pluses, which give the
production an unmatched nerve to stare off onto deadly landscapes
as if they were stairways to heaven. The movie is beautifully
photographed and executed, and even if the plot doesn't
do the exteriors justice, at least the texture and ambition
help hide away most of the formulaic interior structure.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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