"It's not just snow ... there's rocks and ice."
Vertical Limit
Review by Ross Anthony

Hanging from a cliff in Monument valley, Chris O'Donnell and Robin Tunney sing "Take it to the limit one more time." It's a breath-taking scene - so bring plenty of breath with you. In the beat of an eye, slip of the foot, snap of a rope, these siblings meet up again halfway around the world in the Pakistani Himalayas. Desert to snowcaps, this film takes climbing to the extremes.

And therein lies the anchor of the film, not just big climbing, but big climbing slips, slides and falls. At precisely these times when expert climbers lose their grip, the film becomes ... well, most gripping. The plot, cliché motivations and complications are just rote steps strollin' up a mountain.

The dialogue, like the film itself, is plagued by peaks and valleys. At one moment a sharp satirical line gets the crowd laughing, the next moment, a serious line ... well, gets the crowd laughing (if you know what I mean). And though I liked the international assemblage of climbers, the wind and less than perfect sound quality conspired to make still other lines difficult to understand.

Visually, the film is mostly tight. Besides the excellent special effects, there's a fantastic shot of two young leopards play-fighting in the snow. Unfortunately, focus problems irritate other images throughout the production.

Because the story plays second fiddle to the action, scenes that should be touching ... really aren't. In fact, the most endearing characters are a couple of secondary goofballs -- sort of the Beavis and Butthead or Trapper and Hawkeye of the Himalayas.

Whelp then, to summit up, though some of the action sequences are a bit "over the edge," they're great fun to watch. If you're not in the mood for compelling drama and just want to enjoy a bumpy ride - take yourself to the "Vertical Limit."

  • Vertical Limit. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Annie Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco, Temuera Morrison, Stuart Wilson.
  • Directed by Martin Campbell.
  • Written by Robert King and Terry Hayes. Story by Robert King.
  • Produced by Lloyd Phillips, Robert King, Martin Campbell at Columbia.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:43:13 PDT