Vertical Limit

Dir: Martin Campbell
Starring: Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Scott Glenn

I can imagine the writers mulling it over: "Yeah, mountains are good, very photogenic and all, but they just don't explode frequently enough. How do we get round that?" Then one of them sees Wages of Fear - or more likely, William Friedkin's remake, Sorceror - and comes up with a contrived plan (involving ace climber O'Donnell attempting to rescue his sister, and billionaire Paxton. I'll spare you the details) to get multiple lots of highly unstable nitro up the peak as well. Qualms about this aside, the action sequences are amazing: beautifully staged works of tension, in particular one which intercuts between the trapped climbers trying to recover a backpack, and two rescuers having a few problems of their own.

This overshadows the much-trailered leap by Chris O'Donnell, which is thrown away so fast as to be worthless with no build-up or follow-through. O'Donnell also appears to have only two acting expressions, one of which is "frost-bitten", and the chemistry between him and his sister at times seems to border on the incestuous. Scott Glenn delivers a nice turn as an old-school mountaineer with an interesting past, and the rest of the rescue team have their individual quirks and personalities, which keeps thing ticking over between avalanches, falls, and Really Big Explosions. If you want any insight into why people go mountaineering, look elsewhere, since this will put you off it for life. Otherwise, hold on tight.


Bearded...Industry captain...Publicity-rabid...
Bill Paxton *is* Richard Branson...
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