ABC Film Challenge – Action – V – Vertical Limit (2000)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Robert King, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Robert King (Story)

Starring: Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Temuera Morrison, Ben Mendelsohn, Alexander Siddig, Izabella Scorupco

 

Plot: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world’s biggest mountains.


Tagline – Hold Your Breath

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of your Seat Thriller

 

Story: Vertical Limit starts with the personal climb tragedy that Peter (O’Donnell) and Annie (Tunney) go through, the siblings go their separate ways, three years later work brings them back together on K2, as Annie is part of billionaire Elliot Vaughn’s (Paxton) team planning to climb to the top for an advertising opportunity.

When the weather turns, the crew on the mountain gets thrown into a cave in the middle of the mountain with no escape, Peter will now lead a team to rescue his sister in a race against time and the weather.

 

Thoughts on Vertical Limit

 

Characters – Peter is the brother of Annie, he had to make a difficult decision which led to his father’s death becoming distant from his sister in the process, now a wildlife photographer in extreme conditions which reunites them on K2, when she becomes trapped, Peter puts together a team to rescue her before it is too late. Annie is the sister and just as experienced climber ass Peter, she works on K2 for the billionaire that arranges tours, she has records on climbing the mountain too. She is on the team which gets trapped on the mountain, needing to remain in control while the rest look to survive. Montgomery Wick is the expert climber that has spent years searching for his lost wife on the mountain, he doesn’t work with others unless it is a rescue mission, he will get Peter to his location at the quickest pace. Elliot Vaughn is the billionaire that climbs for money, this expedition is planned as a marketing campaign for his new airline, he doesn’t care about lives as much as the other people on the mountain.

PerformancesChris O’Donnell in the leading role is good, he shows the knowledge while the innocent panic one would have while trying to save a loved one, Robin Tunney shows the strength needed for her part spending most of the film opposite Paxton who once again showed why he could become any role in a film. Scott Glenn gets the strongest scenes because of his outside persona created by his character, which does need a moment of emotional strength.

StoryThe story here follows sibling mountain climbers that have become distant after a tragedy, now one must rescue the other one on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world K2. This is a survivor story which shows how dangerous in the first-place mountain climbing is and just how much more dangerous rescue mission can be. Each character in the film has their own reason for being on the mountain which gives us a reason to follow and support each character through the mission, though this does end up feeling strange when we see what happens to most of the rescue team. For the most part this is a simple to follow story that does the directions most survival movies go without needing to make anything complicated, showing us the good and bad in people.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences in this film are fantastic, clearly the highlight of the film, we see the climbers hanging on for dear life, avalanches and explosion which the teams must survive, which plays into the adventure of climbing one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film only make this more breath-taking, the views from the mountain, mixed with the locations the people are trapped or climbing show us just how dangerous this is.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak though, we have one moment with a helicopter where you can almost make out that it is shaking like a rodeo machine.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning about the explosives in the sun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The forced foreshadowing from the opening sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable survival movie which will grab to the edge of your seat from the moment things go wrong until the gripping conclusion.

 

Overall: Survival Film at its best.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – P – Payback (1999)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Donald E Westlake (Novel)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Under, John Glover, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Revenge Thriller

 

Story: Payback starts as Porter (Gibson) is left for dead by his partner Val (Henry) and wife Lynn (Unger), Porter explains everything he wants to go and why it happened as he tells us all his plan. We watch how Porter dives into the criminal underworld to get his hands-on Val first to get his money, then to kill him.

Porter’s mission is filled with twists and turns along the way as he deals with his former bosses, Bronson (Kristofferson), Carter (Devane), dirty cops and his only friend is old flame Rosie (Bello), can he get what is owned to him?

 

Thoughts on Payback

 

Characters – Porter is a streetwise criminal that does the small jobs in the underworld until he is betrayed, he only wants his money but ends up going after the whole organisation in his cold calculated way. Val is the man that betrayed Porter, he has a short temper and gets himself into trouble more often than not. Rosie is the one person Porter is willing to trust but mostly used to show Porter could have a life after this revenge mission. We also have the traditional crime characters that don’t seem to have anything overly original about them.

PerformanceMel Gibson was one of the hottest properties in the 90’s before any controversy and here you can see he knew how to be the star of the show. Gregg Henry is a good villain but we have three main villains that all get the limited amount of time. Maria Bello is also good in this film as the helper showing us she can pull off the sexy smart partner in crime.

StoryThe story is a by the book revenge story of a betrayed criminal that goes after the man who turned on his just to get the money back but ends up facing off against the how organisation. This is also a film which is known for how the editing changed the tone of the film which is something you can see through the story a lot, one minute it feels like a dark thriller the next it has a moment of what feels slightly comical. This does take part of the film out but the story still ends up going the same way.

Action/CrimeThe action is shoot ups which are a good watch throughout the film, each having bigger stakes and each trying to give us something original. The crime world shows us the world all the characters are from which helps us understand all the motivation they show.

SettingsNew York, my old friend and favourite for a crime setting, nothing can be flawed and staying away from some of the bigger iconic monuments or structures helps us enjoy the gritty underworld.

Scene of the Movie – Pearl in a jam.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would agree with the people who say the edit doesn’t click for the tone.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good by the book crime thriller but the tonal problems stops it reaching the highlights of everything it could have from what I hear of the director’s cut.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

madDirector: George Miller, George Ogilvie

Writer: Terry Hayes, George Miller (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn, Tina Turner, Frank Thring, Angelo Rossitto

 

Plot: After being exiled from the most advanced town in post-apocalyptic Australia, a drifter travels with a group of abandoned children to rebel against the town’s queen.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Finish

 

Story: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome starts as Max (Gibson) is rob in the wasteland when he heads after the person responsible he ends up in Bartertown making a deal for 24 hours of his life to search for his belongings.

The leader of the town is Aunty Entity (Turner) recruits Max to eliminate The Blaster from the pig power factory to keep her reign over the people. This means Max challenges The Master Blaster to a one on one fight in the Thunderdome with the winner getting the freedom and Max getting his belongings back.

When Max backs out of the deal he finds himself facing the wheel that will decide his fate in bartertown. After being exiled Max sets out on a revenge mission to get his stuff and bring down the home of the thunderdome once and for all.

 

Thoughts on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

 

StoryThis is the third story of the Mad Max saga and this time around we dive deeper into the dystopian world where we meet different pockets of survivors that Max must interact with to make a better future for the right ones but like before he wants to keep to himself and go about hi business only getting involved when he is affected by the choices. This story feels bigger but this is also part of the downfall in this one because it was the simple story that made the last one so great.

Action/ThrillerThe action feels different but does lack the use of vehicles this time around and feels like it is in the post-apocalyptic world we are sold on. This also doesn’t feel as edge of your seat anymore because of the number of characters involved.

Characters/PerformanceMax continues to be the character that fights for the right things but also the one who wants to be isolated from the others. The villain continues to be over the top with Tina Turner taking this role well but otherwise this also feels like a step back from the last outing in the series.

SettingsThe settings are created to make us fully believe we are in the post-apocalyptic wasteland with both main settings coming off bigger and much more settled that last time which is one of the highlights of this film.

Special EffectsThis outing doesn’t have as many special effects with well-planned stunts that all come off.

Final ThoughtsThis feels like a step back in the franchise even if it still keeps the basic idea together for the mad world this works very well indeed.

 

Overall: Tidy conclusion to the saga but easily the weakest of the three.

Ratingcard

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior (1981)

roadDirector: George Miller

Writer: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michal Preston, Max Phipps Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Virginia Hey, William Zappa

 

Plot: In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big, Better and Bloodier

 

Story: Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior starts by showing us the dystopian world Max (Gibson) roams and just how destructive it has become with oil running low. Max is now deadlier than ever taking zero prisoners when it comes to fighting on the road.

When Max meets, the wasteland guy The Gyro Captain (Spence) he learns about an endless supply of gas which keep Max supplied for years but there is one problem it is controlled by warriors who are under threat from The Humengus (Nilsson) and his bloody thirsty gang that want the gas for themselves.

Max reluctant helps the warriors defend the gas from the gang in what is a battle in the middle of the desert for the most valuable resource in the new world gas.

 

Thoughts on Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

 

StoryThe story picks up where the last one finished with the character of Max now ready to rule the wasteland, the first film introduced us to Max this one unleashes him to be the bad ass action character we need and the story shows just how he is willing to work for the greater good when need be. This also enters into the time when stories were simple and this one shows just how simple story telling can be something the audience of the Fury Road chapter learnt in 2015.

Action/ThrillerThe action is bigger with the chases being riskier and edge of your seat throughout but this time when it comes to the genres it makes everything very clear that this a post-apocalyptic world we are now in. The film uses the genres to improve this film to the next level.

Characters/PerformanceMad Max is the strong silent type not having many lines in the whole film and this works for Gibson who continues to shine in the role, this time we get some comic relief to lighten the higher end action going on. The villains on the other side feel like a much bigger threat and wildly over the top so much so that not one but two of the references whether it be the nickname of image became huge through the World Wrestling Federation.

SettingsThe settings are again very simple but effective as nearly the whole movie is set on battle to protect the gas supply, this continues the trend this film set by making sure the story is big but simple.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects everything is all perfectly placed stunt work to make sure the chase or battle scenes come off to their full effect.

Final ThoughtsThis is the improvement the fans wanted from the original, everything is bigger, bloodier and just overall way more entertaining.

 

Overall: How all action films should improve themselves.

Ratingcard

 

 

Dead Calm (1989)

deadDirector: Phillip Noyce

Writer: Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Charles Williams (Novel)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane, Rod Mullinar, Joshua Tilden

 

Plot: After a tragedy, John Ingram and his wife Rae spend some time isolated at sea when they come along a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Suspenseful

 

Story: Dead Calm starts when married couple Rae (Kidman) and John (Neill) suffer the personal tragedy when their son is killed in a car accident. To cope with the loss, the two head out to sea to get away from the world and grieve in their own way.

The couple’s peace is broken when lone survivor Hughie Warriner (Zane) whose crew have all died as the couple agree to help the stranded sailor. Whilst investigating Hughie’s boat John learns the truth about this man whose sinister side takes over as he takes control of their ship kidnapping Rae along the way. The film becomes a battle for survival from Rae point of view and John must repair the damaged boat to have any chance of saving the day.

Dead Calm keeps the story short and sweet never trying to be anything more than it needs to. We never find anything getting confusing with the most part just being a fight for survival be it on a damaged boat or stay one step ahead of a mad man. This really does make this easy to follow.

 

Actor Review

 

Nicole Kidman: Rae is dealing with the loss of her son in a car accident where she was also badly injured in. she joins her husband on their yacht sailing around the Pacific but her time of grieving is interrupted when she finds herself being held captive by Hughie. Nicole is great in this role showing a strong female character through the ordeal she finds herself in.

Sam Neill: John is the husband of Rae who just so happens to be a sailor, he takes her away to grieve the loss of their son only to find himself in a race against time using all of his skills to save from the hands of a mad man. Sam is good considering he has to spend most of the film alone.

Billy Zane: Hughie is the lone survivor from another yacht claiming his crew all died but soon we learn about his dark side as he has always been planning to hijack the next boat he came across with Rae as his prisoner. I do feel this character could have been even darker than what we got. Billy is good in this role but I feel we did need to see slightly more twisted in his character.

Support Cast: Dead Calm really doesn’t have anyone else truly involved with most extra characters only appearing in an odd scene.

Director Review: Phillip NoycePhillip gives us a tense thriller that keeps us on edge throughout.

 

Thriller: Dead Calm does keep us on edge throughout because we know just how stranded the characters are through the situation.

Settings: Dead Calm puts our characters in the middle of the ocean which shows us there is nowhere they can go to escape what is happening, perfect us of setting.
Special Effects
: Dead Calm has good effects when needed with most just really being used sparingly.

Suggestion: Dead Calm is one I would recommend seeing as it does everything you need it to do as a thriller. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Tension building.

Worst Part: A certain death.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

Tagline: High Seas. Deep Terror.

 

Overall: Suspense filled thriller.

Ratingcard