WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A team of climbers set out to ascend to the peak of the world’s most dangerous mountain, K2, for a publicity stunt organized by an eccentric billionaire. After things go terribly wrong and the group gets trapped, the brother (Chris O’Donnell) of one of the climbers assembles a rag tag rescue team in order to beat the clock and save their lives.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Without sugar coating things here, this is one of the dumbest movies that I’ve seen in quite some time. But that’s not entirely a bad thing, so let me explain. Every once in awhile, we all need a film which allows us to leave our brains at home, grab a big ass bucket of buttery popcorn and be properly entertained for a solid 2 hours. This is one of those movie going experiences and it’s definitely worthy of being labeled "mindless entertainment". From the opening 5 minutes, Vertical Limit basically grabbed me by the balls and I was hooked in the whole way through. My biggest beef with it though was probably the first 30 minutes or so, which were basically used to establish the story and get familiar with the characters. There wasn’t much action or suspense in there, but once the half hour mark passed, it’s like the movie radically shifted gears, as the tempo and pace both increased substantially.
The film did however lose some points in the reality department as I often found myself having to greatly suspend my disbelief, just to keep up with the story. I mean, anyone who’d agree to the brilliant idea of strapping nitroglycerine canisters to mountain climbers should have their heads examined! In term of acting, nobody really stood out here but Bill Paxton did a decent job as the pseudo-villain. Chris O’Donnell, in desperate need of some acting versatility, basically plays the same damn character in every other movie he’s been in. No surprises there. The movie earns most of its points with its absolutely insane stunts which will leave your jaw hanging open and put skid marks on your drawers. Here's a film that uses its exotic locations to their fullest potential, so be prepared for some sick avalanches and vertigo inducing shots of people falling wildly out of control. hile this film may not be a candidate for the most “realistic movie of the year”, it’s got more than its fair share of entertainment value. Break out the popcorn and milk duds, this one’s pure unadulterated fun from start to finish.
Included as bonus material is the HBO First Look “Surviving the Limit” which checks in at a decent 24 minutes. While it does suffer from the typical fluffiness expected from the folks over at HBO, it does provide some nice behind-the-scenes footage in tandem with your usual interviews. Probably the coolest excerpt from this featurette is the training footage of the actors struggling to learn how the climb on an indoor wall. We’re also treated to great highlights of just how difficult a time the producers had in shooting on location. “Search and Rescue Tales” is a brief extra which is split into 8 mini-chapters, with each one basically covering a specific aspect of filming production. Running a total of about 25 minutes, we get specific looks at the intricacies of mountain climbing, including descriptions of elevation sickness and drugs which are designed to fight off their effects. It’s got far more substance than the "making of" documentary and is definitely worth checking out, if only for the great wealth of information.
On a side note to Robin Tunney, we can see your nipples under that see-through shirt and not that I’m complaining but it was kind of ahem, “distracting”. A twelve-minute National Geographic special, “Quest for K2” rounds out the featurettes and is a fascinating real look at the people who actually dare to scale the world’s most dangerous mountain. Why people would want to risk their lives, knowing that the odds are stacked against them is something I’ll never understand. Theatrical trailers for the movie, CLIFFHANGER, CHARLIE’S ANGELS and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON are also included. The DVD’s opening menus are a little long but do feature some cool map animation and sound.
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend 2 hours and be blown away by some awe inspiring stunt work, you don’t have to look much farther than Vertical Limit. In terms of the DVD, its greatest assets are the unbelievable quality of both the audio and video which must be seen to be believed. The trio of added mini-documentaries also did a nice job of shedding some light on the hard work that went into creating all of the spectacular shots. And when you add up all of those cool extras, this DVD qualifies as a worthwhile rental. Check it out.