A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has many frightening and emotionally disturbing scenes. In the opening scene, a young man is forced to kill his father (at his insistence) in order to save his and his sister's lives. In another scene, a climber finds the frozen corpse of his wife, who died several years earlier. Characters are in almost constant peril from the dangers of the mountain, filmed to create maximum tension. There are a large number of deaths, including several perpetuated by one character to save his own life.
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What's the story?
In the action-thriller VERTICAL LIMIT, wealthy Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton) hires mountain climbing expert Annie (Robin Tunney) to help him scale K2 in the Himalayas. Her estranged brother, Peter (Chris O'Donnell), happens to be in the area on a photography assignment. When foul weather and an avalanche trap Annie and the climbers in a cave, Peter organizes a rescue squad – but they must work fast, before the climbers run out of oxygen.
Is it any good?
Like The Perfect Storm, Vertical Limit makes a perfect match of computer generated effects and natural disasters. The terrain of the movie is made up of endless expanses of snow, some of it covering rock, some covering only more snow and likely to give way under foot without warning. As befits a director whose biggest hit was one of the James Bond movies (GoldenEye), Martin Campbell paces the thrills evenly throughout the movie. Whatever combination of technical tricks were used to accomplish it, the actors always appear to be a part of this frozen environment, even when hanging off the side of impossibly high precipices.
While it doesn't lack for thrills, Vertical Limit becomes a bit grim as it goes along. Characters are killed off as regularly and mechanically as in a slasher movie, and effect that is numbing and a little distasteful. Instead, the script should have worked harder to flesh out the characters, giving us more to root for. Chris O'Donnell and Robin Tunney are likeable leads, the talented Bill Paxton hissable but not as interesting as he was in A Simple Pan. Scott Glenn is well cast as the man of mystery who puts aside his personal demons to join the rescue mission, but all of the performers would have benefited from stronger characters to work with.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: October 3, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2002
- Cast: Bill Paxton, Chris O'Donnell, Robin Tunney
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense life/death situations and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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