Directed by Martin Campbell, starring Chris O’Donnell, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn and Izabella Scorupco.
Want to see a great action adventure that allows you to vicariously experience life-or-death situations in a majestic, yet unmerciful, natural setting? Then don’t go to see Vertical Limit, no matter how impressive the trailer makes it look. Set on the treacherous slopes of K2, and filmed on Mt. Cook in New Zealand, the film’s panorama was always going to be stunning - though it barely compares to the cinematography of the IMAX spectacle Everest - but the exhilarating roller-coaster ride of suspense and thrill-sequences promised by the film’s publicity, is sparsely delivered.
No stranger to action movies, Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Mask of Zorro) directs a film that, for the most part, ignores the amazing potential for action presented by its magnificent setting in favour of a human drama that could just as easily have been developed at ground-level. Vertical Limit follows the story of Peter Garrett (Chris O’Donnell) who, having retired from mountain climbing after the death of his father, is forced to return to K2 to rescue his sister (Robin Tunney) from entrapment in an ice-cavern. While the film delivers the occasional great moment - the rescue party hanging precariously over gaping chasms, carrying defectively packaged cans of nitro-glycerine or struggling across icy terrain with pulmonary edema - they are few and far between. Disappointingly, the plot concentrates on a half-hearted study of human relationships that turns what might have been a gripping high altitude thriller into a run-of-the-mill melodrama on ice.