‘Blu-ray or Bust’THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (2017, R, 112 minutes, CHERNIN ENTERTAINMENT/20TH CENTURY FOX)
It is actually snowing outside as I write this review; it adds a little something to the cold ambiance of this film, in that it makes me feel comforted to know I’m not stuck in the wilderness with bad dialogue (only due to the fact that I am not currently speaking to myself…).
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US wants to be a love story. It also wants to be a survival story, an adventure story, a drama, and a tale about Human Vs. Nature. What it turns out to be is a convoluted mess with five really good actors that aren’t given enough to do—except for Raleigh and Austin, but we’ll get to “them” in a moment.
Idris Elba (“Luther”, THE DARK TOWER) and Kate Winslet (TITANIC, THE DIVERGENT SERIES) star as two air travelers that charter a small plane when their flights are canceled. The plane, piloted by Beau Bridges, and co-piloted by his dog, crashes in the mountains, leaving Beau thankfully dead. I say “thankfully”, because he doesn’t have to stick around for the rest of the bad dialogue. He gets an out, gets to go play golf or count all of his money… or audition for better roles.
Idris and Kate, however, are forced to muddle through dialogue that leaves you hoping for an avalanche. Or for the Titanic to fall out of the sky and land on the director (Hany Abu-Assad, who hasn’t directed anything else you have seen) (and I whole-heartedly encourage that you keep it that way). It isn’t that our two stellar actors aren’t good, so much as it is that they aren’t given anything good to do here. Or say, as if I haven’t stressed that point enough. Honestly, there was better dialogue in BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.
This film has two—technically, three—saving graces. One of those is cinematographer Mandy Walker (AUSTRALIA, HIDDEN FIGURES); she captures the landscape beautifully, making the environment the most stunning thing about this film. The mountains and cliffs are daunting when they need to be, lending a majestic and foreboding feeling to the film which, quite frankly, isn’t quite captured by the script itself. It is not enough to save this film, and Walker’s talents—like Ms. Winslett’s and Mr. Elba’s—seem wasted here.
But the biggest waste of talent? Raleigh and Austin, who take turns playing Dog. Dog is the heart of this film; he is the one character that does the most saving of other lives (I counted—really, what the hell else was I gonna do?), and he is obviously the only one having fun. Our main characters do a lot of frowning and looking lost, even when (spoiler alert!) they finally do The Nasty. You ever see two confused people making out? It’s like watching two koalas wrestling, just not nearly as cute or entertaining, and you don’t feel like there’s an actual winner in the contest. But Dog? He always knows the score, and has more fun tromping through the snow than the actors had playing tonsil hockey.
Oh, and Ms. Winslett’s thin t-shirt during the cabin scene should also be POINTED out. I won’t say why, but from a totally non-professional standpoint, its performance is TITILLATING.
There are special features, but, seriously, who cares? If they are half as exhausting as the dreadful dialogue, you’ll be ready for a long winter’s nap thirty seconds in. I’m sure this is not a career-ending picture for the actors involved (especially not for Raleigh and Austin, I hope!), and this just plays out as a studio obligation for them. Just keep in mind, it is not an obligation for you. Just stay away—in fact, keep a mountain between yourself and this stinker.
Film Grade: D+
Special Features: It wasn’t good enough to sit through those as well…
Blu-ray Necessary: Oh hell no
-- T.S. Kummelman