Feel their pain. Monique and Peter (Scorupco and O'Donnell) struggle to rescue someone from yet another sudden crisis...
Vertical Limit

dir Martin Campbell
scr Robert King, Terry Hayes
with Chris O'Donnell, Robin Tunney, Bill Paxton, Scott Glenn, Nicholas Lea, Izabella Scorupco, Temuera Morrison, Roshan Seth, Stuart Wilson, Steve Le Marquand, Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Taylor
release US 8.Dec.00; UK 19.Jan.01
Columbia 00/US 2h06 2 out of 5 stars
Over and over again, Hollywood spends millions on films with virtually no script. And here's a virtually textbook example, so awful that it's actually fun to watch. On the slopes of K2, the world's "toughest" peak, everyone has a tortured past: Siblings Peter and Annie (O'Donnell and Tunney) are struggling to cope with a tragic family accident three years earlier. Now Peter is trying to rescue Annie, trapped in a deep crevasse with ruthless businessman Elliot (Paxton), who has a private agenda for wanting to get to the top on schedule, despite warnings from climbing expert Tom (Lea, aka The X-Files' Krycek, so how can we trust him?). Peter gets help from grizzled mountain man Montgomery (Glenn), who's trying to put to rest the death of his wife on K2 years ago. Stir in a few avalanches, surprise storms, very high cliffs, daring rescues and several cylinders of unstable Pakistani nitro-glycerine, and you've got Dynasty at 26,000 feet!

It's just so ludicrous that your jaw drops further with each melodramatic, illogical scene. Time is of the essence, but everyone continually stops for unnecessary soul searching, tentative romance, murderous sneakiness, ethnic zaniness (oh those wacky Aussies!), gratuitous death-defying action, whatever it takes to solve each person's life quest. And it doesn't even look that good. Admittedly, some mountain scenery is stunning, but most shots look like bad special effects blue-screened behind cheesy sets. Gritty realism is represented by gruesome injuries and sudden death; otherwise it's pure fantasy to watch all this shouting and exerting at such high altitudes ... where it's not even cold enough to freeze the tears streaming down everyone's cheeks. None of the actors have much to do besides hit their marks and emote on command. None of the action sequences, however awesome they may look, contains even a smidge of suspense. And despite all the moping, weeping, hugging and true confessions, the only moral seems to be that you should never climb K2 with a cylinder of unstable Pakistani nitro-glycerine.

[12--grisliness, language, themes] 15.Jan.01

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Luca Signorelli, Torino: 1/5 "Insane. Absolutely insane. I'm a climber myself and I didn't want to believe the hype, but it's true - the scriptwriters must have hired some consultant just to remove whatever link to the realities of climbing this movie may had originally. The first scene (with probably the most surreal climbing accident ever imagined) had me on the floor laughing my head off. And the rest is just worse! It's the Plan 9 From Outer Space of mountain movies - I honestly can't imagine how it could have been worse!" (30.Dec.05)
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall