Directed by Martin Campbell
Running Time: 2:00
Rated PG-13 for intense life/death situations and brief strong language.

Vertical Limit had a lot of great action sequences but a weak story line and some very un-interesting characters, but overall had enough entertainment value to make it worthwhile.

3 years after a tragedy that cost them their father's life, Annie Garrett (Robin Tunney) and Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell) meet at the base of K2. He's there taking pictures for National Geographic, while she's part of a team created by billionaire Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton) to head to the summit as part of a publicity stunt for his new airline. When they near the top, the weather takes a turn for the worse, and just when they decide to head back down the mountain, Annie falls into a crevice, followed by Elliot and lead climber Tom McLaren, while an avalanche takes out most of the team. Peter decides to risk a quick climb up the mountain to save his sister, and takes along Mongomery Wick (Scott Glenn), an old time climber, and friend of his father. Along with 4 other team members, the 6 of them must risk their own lives, to save the others, with time not on their side.

The action sequences in the film were amazing. Very realistic looking, and very dangerous. The biggest problem I had was that every time something exciting would happen, the director would cut away to another story line which slowed down the pace. It was very stop and go for most of the movie. The opening sequence was very poor in my opinion. It reminded me a lot of the opening to Mission: Impossible 2, just not as well done. And we all knew their father was going to die, but was it really necessary to show him hitting the ground? The entire opening just didn't feel right. Then the movie got very slow as got to meet the rest of the characters. I didn't really care for any of them, since we really never got to know any of them. We were just introduced to them, then they went on their business. Once they started the rescue mission however, at about an hour into the film, things started to pick up. Watching the three teams of two climb the mountain, and all the pitfalls that occurred, was very exciting. It's hard to describe action sequences, but rest assured, they all looked and felt very real. And there were a lot of explosions to keep things interesting. But as I said earlier, for every exciting action moment, they would cut back to the three trapped in the mountain, where most of the time they would be coughing. It slowed down the pace of the movie tremendously. While it is necessary to go back and 'check up on' the rest of the characters, it needs to be paced better, so the movie doesn't slow down as much as it did.

The characters weren't very interesting, other than Paxton's billionaire who had his moments. Peter and Annie I didn't care for too much, while Wick was just another strange guy who enjoyed climbing mountains. His story line dealing with his wife and her death upon the mountain didn't move me too much. Vaughn on the other hand was interesting. He had this look of madness in his eyes that I wish had come out more. He did snap on one occasion, but other than that, it was more of a fury in his eyes. Some of the supporting characters were OK, like the two brothers who enjoyed sunbathing nude on the mountain, but they weren't explored very well. And sometimes you couldn't understand what they were saying. Then there was the strange romance between Peter and Monique (Izabella Scorupco). Where the hell did that come from?

So overall, if you're looking for some really good action, take a look at Vertical Limit. But if you're looking for a good story, don't bother. The biggest reason to go see this in the theaters is because movies like this need to be seen on a big screen just because it makes everything seem more real. But if that doesn't affect you, this will be a good rental in a few months.

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reviewed 12/10/00

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