Vertical Limit (2000)
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Apart from a very attractive opening sequence in Utah (Monument Valley, I think) the film was shot in the New Zealand Alps, with a few clips of the genuine Karkoram Himalaya spliced in. For this viewer, it brought back pleasant memories of climbing in the University holidays around the Southern Alps. But climbing is a dangerous sport; on one trip I was accompanied by four people, all of whom subsequently died in separate climbing accidents (one on Makalu, next to Everest). There is a fair amount of special effects malarky (no-one, not even Temuera Morrison pretending to be Pakistani, would fly an old military helicopter so close to a mountain wall at 21,000 feet), but there are also some genuinely stirring shots.
Unfortunately, the acting for the most part matches the script. Chris Connelly, good at sensitive young men, is wrong for the brother bent on rescue (it's more of a part for Bruce Willis), and Bill Paxton is only moderately menacing as the ruthless Richard Branson-style billionaire. In fact the only decent piece of acting is Scott Glenn's Wick, the veteran with attitude. The'comic' Australian climbing brothers, Ces and Cyril, or whatever their names were, were profoundly embarrassing I guess Ben Mendelsohn will be hoping no-one will recognise him with a balaclava on his head. There were also lackluster performances from the two female leads, Robin Tunney and Izabella Scorupco. One of them, Scorupco, is an ex-Bond girl ('Goldeneye') the casting people obviously didn't realise she was going to be spending the entire movie wrapped up in Gore-Tex. There's no sex at high altitude it's too damned cold and anyway survival takes precedence over procreation.
I think Roger Ebert got it right on this one a 'B' movie with an 'A' movie budget. There are all sorts of anomalies the lack of visible water vapour issuing from the climbers, their sprightly behaviour even after hours at 26,000 feet, the use of north wall hammers to attack a rock/ice pitch, the miraculous helicopter piloting but somehow the magnificence of those great peaks comes through. The worst thing about a movie like this is that it portrays the mountains as hellish, which is far from the truth. What is it the psalm says 'I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my strength'? Climbing is one thing I have never regretted doing, and it would be a pity if people were put off the sport by stuff like this. Actually I think the people who do attempt peaks like K2 would see this film as preposterous, overblown Hollywood brown smelly stuff, and they'd be right. But there is some nice scenery.
If you need reality, go elsewhere. It would only be a 2/10 rating. Better yet, go watch a documentary.
This movie is no different than the Spielberg formula, from movies like Indiana Jones. However, for those of us that like the formula, this is great entertainment.
The writing gets a 5/10 Special Effects - 10 Camera work - 10 Acting - 8 Character development - 6
Have some fun, turn off the thinking cap, and watch this action flick.
The movie is interesting with it's main fault being a common one: overdone action at the end. Along the way, however, it has many almost jaw-dropping scenes and some spectacular mountain scenery which looks great on the sharp DVD transfer. The stunt work in here is also incredible. Martin Campbell, the same director who did The Mask Of Zorro and Goldeneye, is good at producing eye-popping action scenes.
The dialog at times is juvenile, but it could have been worse. The profanity was lower than expected, too. How accurate is it concerning mountain-climbing? Probably like most films: totally inaccurate, at least that's what a mountain- climbing expert told me, and I believe him.
All in all, however, a far better film than I expected.....strictly for the entertainment.
Sure, it's hell if your sis is stuck in an avalanche on K-2 but, as some climber already pointed out in basecamp, you don't go risking another six people to 'possibly' get two down. Besides, there are better ways to do this than by strapping a can of nitroglycerine to your back.(small note: dynamite is essentially chalk soaked in nitro which stabilizes it. Guess they hadn't thought of that?)
Furthermore, you never climb beneath another group's ropes (lest they fall and drag you with them...), you do not sprint across a ridge wearing glacier-irons, you do not sit on a 5cm ledge without a safety rope attached, you do jump out of a helicopter trying to fall down unless you intend to end up spaghetti.
In short, this movie severely damages the image of the real mountain climbers, who consider safety and precaution a way of life and not something to disregard to look cool.
If you can't think well you might like this movie but it you have some brains, no way! No real plot development - only special effects over and over and over...Unfortunately not even plausible special effects. Jumping a crevasse (didn't they know it was there before they took that route) and actually sticking to the other side. Come on!
I could go on and on but I won't. Nice scenery though. I like the actors but not in this movie.
Well, that's my take and thanks.
The film's CGI creates compelling tension. We have the illusion of vertical scale, or perspective, which translates into a needed sense of vertigo. The sensation that the characters could, at any moment, fall to their deaths is the film's strength.
The mountain scenery is also nice, although it is sometimes wasted, because of the film's fast pace. Cinematography is quite good. And some of the scene transitions make the film flow really well.
Dialogue seems flat to me. Production design and costumes are adequate. Acting is largely irrelevant.
By far, the biggest flaw is the unrealistic amount of action. In the plot, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, from bad weather to avalanches to exploding nitro to human conflict and discord. It's all a bit much. But, that seems to be a problem inherent to outdoor action films. Directors cram in too much chaos.
Another minus is the background music, which is irritatingly nondescript. For a film set mostly in Asia, I could have wished for more indigenous music which, when combined with the majesty of the mountains, could have added emotional depth and a sense of mystery and awe.
"Vertical Limit" does have an emotional spine to its story, but that is secondary to the super action plot. Viewers who expect well thought out characters, meticulous plotting, or a subtle "theme" will need to look elsewhere. This film is strictly for people who like heavy-duty outdoor action.
FOR THOSE WHO HAS WRITTEN NEGATIVE REVIEWS:
God bless you guyz, if it is not realistic its entertaining, You guyz watch movie for entertainment or want to make sense in every scene, you open your physics law book and start debating whether or not it's possible. Simply Enjoy the movie!!!
In an article by The Guardian entitled "Mount Everest: the ethical dilemma facing climbers" the author discussed whether climbers should stop to help casualties.
Also, check out article in BBC News "The ethics of climbing Everest" in 2006.
Another interesting article May 1 2015, especially considering recent Avalanches in Nepal. "Mount Everest climbers in dilemma as climbing season draws closer in Nepal"
So you should ask yourself would you do what Vaughan did with the medical kit?
If you family member were trapped on top of K2 or Mount Everest, would you go rescue them?
If you were at base camp what would be your motivations to climb to the top to rescue someone?
And if you were a AF Pararescueman, would you not absolutely love this movie? Hoorah!
What left me disappointed and even a bit annoyed after seeing "Vertical Limit" is the absolute and total failure of this movie to capture any of the real thrill, excitement and hardship involved in scaling the world's second highest mountain.
Books like Jon Krakauers' "Into thin Air" and movies like David Breashears' "Everest" prove that you don't need helicopter rotor blades threatening to dismember climbers or unstable nitroglycerine that explodes if exposed to sunlight to create an exciting story. When Martin Campbell decided to deny the audience any sense of the real technical, physical and emotional challenges of climbing K2, and therefore had to resort to action-movie style heroes, villains and explosions, he left behind a movie too unconvincing, for me to enjoy.
mountain ranges across the planet, I was often asked what I
thought of this movie, and it's accuracy.
This is, without doubt, the least accurate film on climbing I have
ever seen. This movie is simply absurd. I consider it about as
"accurate" as, say, Spy Kids is to global espionage.
In addition to the gaffs pointed out, I wanted to state what was
most amusing to me: Inside the crevasse, the climbers ice tools
bounce off the crevasse walls like they're made out of solid steel
(and 'ping' just like it). But when Chris O'Donnall does his full
sprint (at altitude!) and huge leap across a cavernous abyss, he
drives his ice tools into the other side - made of solid rock - and
sticks like Spiderman. The film is filled with many other absurd
implausabilities that insult the sport it manipulates in the guise of
Aside from that, as so many others have noted, the movie is
simple minded action. If you don't mind laughing at much of it, and
don't for a moment think it represents realistic climbing, leave your
brain at the door and you might have some fun. But most people
will just find it absurd rubbish.
First off: the way the second act was written. The movie kind of remakes the Seven Samurai story, yet for nothing but killing most of them, as if they were there for just getting killed ! No doubt that the movie overused the matter of the nitroglycerin bombs, and badly. Yes, they're a good thrill element, but not to an extent where the Pakistani army doesn't know how to save them, or the Pakistani general doesn't see their leakage under his foot, or the movie uses them as Freddy is used in Nightmare on Elm Street's movies !
Chris O'Donnell is talented, however not that charismatic, and doesn't fit action movies so much. In fact, hiring him with the lovely Robin Tunney back then, whether was for cutting down the budget, or as a chance to experiment new stars, proved to be something not that successful. And after 10 years, both of them ended up in TV shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and The Mentalist.
Although I don't think, for a second, that a helicopter's fan can only cut off a sleeve of someone while getting centimeters close to her. But, for the sake of an action scene, I'll forget about this. Nevertheless, I won't forget that the movie's evil man, played by Bill Paxton, returns to the same place where he went into big accident a few years ago, near to the man who he killed his wife ! Cheeky ? Maybe. Odd ? Full Yes !
I liked that, finally, a Muslim character was shown in a Hollywood movie without the forever usual character (ruthless barbarian terrorist !). I suppose that was for putting wildly different characters together. Especially when that character, of a Pakistani religious soldier, joins forces with an Australian nihilist playboy. Btw, the Islamic prayer's moves weren't done rightly. Clearly they needed an expert on the set for that.
Izabella Scorupco is no less than great. I don't know, and eager to know, why she was exiled from movies ? Because within nearly 20 years, after her first starring role in Golden Eye, she made something like 5 movies ! Being a James Bond girl was sure a problem more than a blessing. It's embarrassing that even when she got work, like in here, it was with Golden Eye's director, Martin Campbell. As if no one else wants to work with her ! She even was offered the lead female role in The Mask of Zorro (1998), for the same director, but turned it down. Otherwise, she doesn't like acting !
So, I'm a big fan of this movie, its script, and directing. But, in the same time, I hate some points, on their top is the sense of laziness at the second act's writing; it's where this fine action leaned toward being an easy slasher. The final verdict: The bad points turned out to be light, and this is a real classic movie. The authentic trailer is one of the best as well.
Dynamite would have been readily available, for it is used to mine Himalayan salt in Pakistan. Certainly, the man with the millions of dollars could have afforded some. The exclusion of explosives from the scenes would have contributed to a more believable Himalayan adventure (think Into Thin Air).
The story line was good, and I appreciated the strong, complex dynamics and connections between the brother and sister, and between the two siblings and the rescue team leader. While Vertical Limit strove to expose the harsh realities of technical climbing (especially at K2), however, it lost some steam by being very lax in re-creating the conditions that would have been met by the climbers, even at K2's Base Camp at 18,645 feet.
No one was even wearing hats at the alcohol-ridden "barbecue" at Base Camp, the night before the climb. It would have been blisteringly cold, between -20 and -50 farenheit. No professional climber would have been drinking alcohol at that time.
On the mountain, in the raging storm, the climbers did not even have the sense to pull the Cord-Locs on their hoods tight: Snow would have accumulated inside their hoods and parkas, then melting. There were some scenes when protective face masks were used, and that was excellent.
Chris O'Donnell's character makes a terrific leap onto a snowy cliff face. I am not entirely certain that the jump would have been possible in real-life, but just maybe. They should have made the jump less-ambitious and more believeable.
Although I am glad that there were not one but two women in the rescue team, in reality, they would have not been allowed: Women just don't have the brute force necessary to haul 200-pound guys down the mountain (or up on a rope).
While I am tempted to say that it is unrealistic that the veteran and renowned ascent team leader and National Geographic photographer (also a highly-experienced climber) could be cajoled into continuing the ascent after the severe storm warning had been issued to them, we have seen bad decisions in the past by real-life alpine team leaders,culminating to disaster.
Although it may seem that I am being very critical of Vertical Limit, my score of 8 shows that I am willing to forgive the sins that Hollywood felt compelled to commit. The strong inter-personal dynamics, memorable characters, strong story line in-general, and clear, bold decision making in the screenplay made this film worth watching. Heroism is always a welcome theme in the movies I watch, and in Vertical Limit, everyone's a hero in his or her own way.
Scott Glen's character as the rescue team leader and sage mountaineer was superb.
Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco and a bunch of other guys must try to survive atop of K2. The toughest mountain in the world. The icy coldness takes it's toll on them as the action heats up and the disasters rise. CLIFFHANGER would be a similar movie, if only it wasn't about money. Either way, they are both similar. The intense life/death sequences that earned the film a PG-13 rating are just that...intense.
If you are a fan or action, see this. VERTICAL LIMIT: 5/5.
Vertical Limit is certainly an exciting film. I caught myself forgetting to breathe at many points throughout the film. It starts in the past, somewhere in the United States' Southwest. Here we see a father and his son and daughter climbing a vertical rock. An accident takes the life of the father and sets us up for the events that take place years later in the main part of the film.
Unless you are a climber and insist on an accurate depiction of the sport, I recommend this film for pure adrenalin rush.
Also, the scenery is absolutely some of the most beautiful in the world. It ALMOST makes me want to go climb a mountain (not really quite though).
Fans of Alexander Siddig (previously known as Siddig El Fadil) will want to watch this movie whether they are interested in climbing or not. He plays Pakistani crew-member Kareem, and yes, this film is set in Pakistan as they are supposedly climbing K2 in the Himalayas, but most of the movie is actually filmed in New Zealand. Only a few sequences were actually filmed in Pakistan (for "backgrounds").
The problem is the lack of both pacing and dramatic buildup. Each unbelievable new cliffhanger featuring these incompetent mountaineers is not much different from the last one. No cliffhanger contributes to the next one. It is just a string of unbelievable, disconnected "exciting" sequences.
Halfway through the movie, I would start laughing as a new cliffhanger developed. I waited to see how many ludicrous elements the director and writers could pile on (he's hanging from his ice axe over a cliff, the cornice is breaking; now the woman is hanging, and he's hanging off of her; now the nitro explodes; now an avalanche comes). But at the end of each sequence, someone is either saved or dead, and we move on as if nothing happened....
Great action directors know how to build excitement on top of excitement, with a rhythm. Each situation, while locally resolved, contributes to an even larger tension, until the audience is sitting at the edges of their seats.
Vertical Limit fails utterly to compound the tension of its action sequences. It ends up tedious and predictable.
I find it strange that I have to say that none of the actors really stood out to me. Chris O'Donnell was ostensibly the "star" of the movie as Peter Garrett, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic who organizes the rescue of the team which included his sister Annie, played by Robin Tunney. Neither O'Donnell nor Tunney exactly captivated me. I was much more taken by Scott Glenn's performance as Montgomery Wick, the reclusive mountain climber who ends up leading the rescue mission. But this was a good ensemble cast. No one really took over, but everyone held up their end.
All sorts of subplots spin around in this. Questions of who should live and who should die when not everyone can make it; issues of greed taking priority over safety and good sense; the complicated brother-sister relationship of Peter and Annie. It all worked well. I'm not usually a great fan of adventure movies, but this is a must see - and even if you end up not liking the story, it's a must see even if only for the spectacular photography.
Personally, though, I can't think of anything not to like in this, and I rate it as a 10/10.