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Monday, 2 December 2019

Retro Review: Vertical Limit (2000)

Vertical Limit
Cast: Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn
Genre: Survival Thriller
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $215 million

Plot: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world's biggest mountains 

'Watch Cliffhanger Instead'

Jeez, this was frankly dreary; like the Z-list version of 1993's Cliffhanger, stripped away the presence of Slyvester Stallone and suspense and replaced by insipid melodrama, sitting through 2 hrs of nothing but blandness was almost torture. But for the opening scene and cinematography, none of the performances resonated and the second-rate characters will be easily forgotten by pretty much everyone. Martin Campbell directed The Mask of Zorro and Goldeneye: two very respectable entries in the action-adventure movie rein, yet unfortunately, Vertical Limit falls incredibly short on big performances which are further stagnated by a barebones and tired script, penned by Robert King who was responsible in big-budget flops, Cutthroat Island and Red Corner, which both bombed at the box office during the 1990s, as well as straight- to- video actioner, Blood Fist, that fails to spring to life.

Surprising to see this was released in theaters in the U.S and across cinemas in Britain and worldwide - because, but for the opener, Vertical Limit feels every inch a direct-to-DVD/B/C/Z- grade movie, devoid of big-name players, acting and directing-wise, who could have easily elevated the laboured plot.

The film opens up with a tragic incident, and as a result, the two siblings become estranged. They reunite years later whilst working on K2, the world's most deadly peak. But after Annie falls down and finds herself trapped in a glacier, it is up to her brother, Peter to rescue her.

Disposable, forgettable, tawdry and any potential quality is further diminished as the story develops; the biggest flaw of this film is that it displaces the human interest aspect of survival; instead, it bombards us with nothing characters and the avalanche and people falling and dying scenes gets old quickly after repeated viewings. Chris O'Donnell is not the type of actor who can headline a film of this type and he just lacks a formidable and believable presence, the late Bill Paxton can play scummy characters (Aliens, True Lies, Trespass spring to mind for a couple), yet his villain character is not distinguishable enough. 

Not one single standout or big performance can be detected here.

I can see to it that this film requires a suspension of disbelief, but even as an adventure-based flick and with a story wherein, the plot, expects the audience to feel empathy towards the heroes and for us to go along with the story, Vertical Limit is incredibly limited in scope as a film, overall and with its overlong screentime, it just makes the viewing experience as burdensome as it sounds. 

There are no thrills, no surprises, no on the edge-of-your-seat scenes and with that, it settles for bland and safe - and bland and safe, when it comes to survival action-based thrillers go, is quite frankly, a no-no. 

Final Verdict:

Despite the comparisons with Cliffhanger, Vertical Limit doesn't even go as far to be on the same or equal level as that film. 

As far as films of this type go, this is 'vertically' limited and vertically challenged. 


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