Vertical Limit

Himalayan hokum, somewhat mitigated by an avalanche of action and photography at the vertical limit of stunning. While on a Utah rock-climbing expedition with his sister Annie (Robin Tunney) and their father (Stuart Wilson), National Geographic photographer Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell) had to make a horrifying life-and-death decision....read more

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Reviewed by Frank Lovece
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Himalayan hokum, somewhat mitigated by an avalanche of action and photography

at the vertical limit of stunning. While on a Utah rock-climbing expedition

with his sister Annie (Robin Tunney) and their father (Stuart Wilson),

National Geographic photographer Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell) had to

make a horrifying life-and-death decision. Three years later, that tragedy's

mountain-sized shadow darkens his relationship with Annie when the two cross

paths at the bustling Himalayan base camp for climbers attempting to scale K2,

the world's second-tallest peak. Avid-climber Annie is ascending with a group

accompanying billionaire Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton, playing the only

three-dimensional character here), an expert mountaineer with a knack for

surviving disaster. Partway up, a deadly avalanche traps Vaughn, Annie and

guide Tom McLaren (Nicholas Lea) deep within a vertical cave. Peter organizes

a rescue party, but when it's pointed out that the survivors will all be dead

by the time he reaches their last known position with the cumbersome heavy

equipment he needs to drill them out, he devises a dangerous alternate plan: talk a friendly Pakistani major (Temuera Morrison) into handing over three

cylinders of nitroglycerin. Before you can say THE WAGES OF FEAR, Peter's

doing a K2 run with New Age man-of-the-mountain Montgomery Wick (Scott Glenn),

beautiful medic Monique (Izabella Scorupco), Muslim mountain guide Kareem

(Alexander Siddig) and party-hearty brothers Mal (Ben Mendelsohn) and Cyril

(Steve Le Marquand). The requisite explosions, avalanches and literal

cliffhangers follow, which isn't necessarily a bad thing: It all looks

spectacular. (The icy peaks of New Zealand are a convincing stand-in for the

Himalayas.) But the colorless Peter and Annie and the preposterous Wick

indulge in such wince-inducing, old-movie dialogue and "'tis a far, far better

thing"-style emoting that the whole thing should be in black-and-white. And

while the filmmakers surely never intended it, the relentless parade of

tragedy in this hellishly hostile environment makes you marvel at nothing so

much as why anyone in their right mind would go climbing there in the first

place.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Himalayan hokum, somewhat mitigated by an avalanche of action and photography at the vertical limit of stunning. While on a Utah rock-climbing expedition with his sister Annie (Robin Tunney) and their father (Stuart Wilson), National Geograp… (more)

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