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Vertical Limit

"Vertical Limit" on DVD

A Real Cliffhanger

by Johnny Bray

When going to see an action flick, plot and acting are not really overly important.

Sure, if you can have them too, it's a definite bonus, but generally unnecessary.

Vertical Limit proves that action alone can make a movie enjoyable.

However, Chris O’Donnell is definitely not the man for the lead in this type of movie. He is far too boyish and not mean-looking enough. However, he is much more tolerable than Keanu Reeves. At least he has some minor acting talent.

What there is of a plot is as follows: A young mountain climber takes a rich tycoon up the world’s second-highest – and most deadly – mountain. As luck would have it, they end up getting caught in an avalanche and are stranded several metres below the surface.

There, they must endure hypothermia, a lack of food and water, and a disease that affects their lungs. So it's up to Mr. O’Donnell to assemble a team to climb the mountain and rescue them, even though he quit climbing ten years ago.

Nitroglycerin is, of course, the only explosive they can find on such short notice, and they think it a great idea to take some along with them. And as sensitive as the nitro is, they manage to jump around all over the place without it blowing up. Yet, if it leaks onto the snow, it blows up half the mountain.

As is the case with any action movie ever made, at times you must suspend your knowledge of physics, as well as your belief in realism. Like when Peter (O’Donnell) is jumping across the valley to the other mountain (which turns out to be the same mountain for some reason); in real life he would snap his arms, but it makes for a cool sequence in a movie.

Martin Campbell shows his talent as an action movie director. His ability to emphasize action sequences can make you forget that this is one of the worst ideas ever concocted for a film. The Mask of Zorro was a very surprisingly entertaining flick. And without Campbell’s touch, Goldeneye might not have been as good as it was.

The special effects are the other savior of this movie. Some of the shots are downright amazing; much better than those in Cliffhanger (the obvious father of Vertical Limit).

As is usually the case these days, most of the good parts are shown in the trailer. Fortunately, the sequences are much longer than the half second you see, so it's worth it to see them anyway.

Vertical Limit is a good, enjoyable movie. Yes, Chris O’Donnell lacks as a lead action hero, and yes, very little of the movie is remotely believable, but so what?

If you want to see action with some cool effects, you'll leave the home theater a happy climber.

The Special Edition DVD is in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, with Dolby Digital audio, and the video and audio quality are top notch. There's also an abundance of extras, including a running commentary, "making of" featurette, search and rescue tales, a National Geographic special on K2, talent files, production notes, and trailers.

Vertical Limit, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
124 min. widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn
Produced by Lloyd Philips, Robert King, Martin Campbell
Written by Robert King and Terry Hayes, Directed by Martin Campbell.


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Updated May 13, 2006