Vertical Limit (2000)

The other night after the sports world had gone to bed, I was sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels. This is something I rarely do since our house has just about all the streaming services out there, so who needs cable anymore. I noticed Vertical Limit was on, and it has been ages since I have seen this climbing adventure.

Vertical Limit is still a decent movie about mountaineering, some 20 years after it’s release. However, we have been spoiled with far more superior stories since then. Movies like Everest (2015), The Summit (2012), and Touching the Void (2003) all offer far more compelling stories and likeable characters.

Action movies were different at the turn of the century. A lot of them featured cookie-cutter characters built into stories filled with drama. Most mountaineer movies are centred around drama, but present us with better characters, people we invest our emotions in. I didn’t feel any of that in Vertical Limit, which featured a bunch of actors I enjoy, like Bill Paxton, Scott Glenn, Chris O’Donnell, and Robin Tunney.

These lead characters all have their reasons for being in the position they find themselves in on K2, the second-highest peak in the world; however, I didn’t care about their stories. It felt so dull that no one on the writing team cared to invest in their characters’ backstories. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of drama and tension between the crews, the ones trapped and the ones on the rescue mission, but it just didn’t feel organic. Even when they have some really shady nitrogen bombs that explode on their own, causing avalanches and death, those moments never upped the drama of the overall story.

The scenery is pretty good, and the story is believable to a certain extent. When you start to look under the top layer of the information and see how flawed it really is, you may end up not liking the film like I did. Now that I got to see Vertical Limit again after all these years, I’ll be okay going another decade or so without watching it again. 3/10

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