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Vertical Limit

Year: 2000
Studio: Columbia
Director: Martin Campbell
Producer: Martin Campbell/Robert King
Writer: Terry Hayes/Robert King
Cast: Chris O'Donnell, Scott Glenn, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Steve Le Marquand, Ben Mendelsohn, Temuera Morrison, Isabella Scurupco, Robert Taylor
This is the movie Cliffhanger would have been if it had been a videogame. There’s a minimum of plotting, just a rescue mission up in the snowy peaks peopled with characters who each have enough screen time to give them a little dimension. Then-hot Chris O’Donnell is hero Peter, the son of a climbing family just as comfortable on a rock face as most people are around the dinner table. The shocking opening coda gives Peter his emotional backstory (and provides the climactic bookend as well), and we’re straight into the action. He’s given up climbing after his father’s death, but sister Annie (Tunney) is stranded high up in the Himalayas after a climb goes wrong, and Peter’s only chance is to go up himself to rescue her. He asks grizzled veteran climber Wick (Glenn) to help him, and the pair assemble a team of helpers that ranges from a Pakistani army pilot (Morrison) to a entrepreneur adventurer (Paxton) and start off. The mountains, weather and bad luck pick them off, Alien -style and future Bond director Martin Campbell hardly lets you catch your breath for a minute while he lurches and hurls you from one set piece to the next. It’s all about the thrills cinema was made for form beginning to end, but little else.

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