A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Cliffhanger

May 16, 2011

Cliffhanger

Yes, yes. We own a Sylvester Stallone movie. But only the one.

This movie is a fun kind of throwback. It came out in 1993, but it feels like an action movie from the Eighties. Commando, maybe. Or Die Hard. It’s your typical lone renegade taking out bad guys in a hostile environment one by one.

Our stalwart hero is Gabe Walker, mountain ranger. He’s part of an elite crew of rangers in the Rocky Mountains who perform search and rescue missions. After a disastrous rescue attempt that results in the death of the young trophy girlfriend of one of his buddies Gabe is through with climbing and with the mountains in general. Before he can leave though an unlikely series of events endangers his friend Hal (who still blames Gabe for his girlfriend’s death.) A group of merciless terrorists have committed a daring mid-air heist of a shipment of millions of dollars of freshly minted bills. (Freshly minted $1000 bills it would seem – which is odd since $1000 bills were removed from circulation in 1969 and haven’t been printed since 1948) In the process however the plane the terrorists were using has crashed in the mountains and the cases with the money have been strewn across the inaccessible and snow covered cliffs. The thieves call for assistance and so it is that Gabe and Hal end up in their clutches.

As happens in this kind of movie the thieves try to kill Gabe with an avalanche, which he completely avoids, and he spends the rest of the movie hunting them down. His girlfriend (also a rescue ranger, but not a chipmunk) eventually goes into the mountains to find him and he has to rescue her a few times as well.

Now I know for Amanda this was a bog-standard and fairly cliched and disappointing action movie, but I actually do enjoy it. It has a couple of stars in it I really like. John Lithgow for one as the ruthless terrorist Qualen. Janine Turner for another, who I loved from Northern Exposure, although she’s largely wasted here as a screaming victim to be protected and rescued. Most of all though I love the stunts in this movie.

This movie is all about rock climbing. It’s right there in the title. It has a weak plot aimed at getting in as many scenes of people clinging to cliff faces as possible. Now I should mention that I have a debilitating and irrational fear of heights. This movie is proof that vertigo is a very hard thing to replicate on a movie screen. I can watch all this stuff about people dangling at great heights with no problem. Indeed I spend a lot of time as I’m watching this movie admiring the climbing on display and wondering how they got some of the impossible shots they have. In particular there’s one impossible shot during the opening scene where the camera cranes around from behind Gabe to over him and swoops about to follow him as he ascends an impossible cliff face. Is it special effects? Is it a stunt man? I honestly can’t tell – all I know is that it looks awesome and I completely believe it. I don’t think for an instant that they actually dangled Sylvester Stallone off of any mountain tops, but clearly they did put some daring men into these positions, and that is what I end up watching the movie for.

It’s a silly, cheesy, predictable movie. I’m not denying that. It has laughable special effects in some parts (such as the bullet impacts and a couple explosions added in post that look clearly pasted on.) It has crazy ridiculous over-acting and John Lithgow’s accent wanders all over the UK. It is also filled with really impressive stunt and camera work, though, and I find that for me at least that is enough to make it worth owning. At least worth owning for the $2 we spent on it.

May 16, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: