Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.
The winner for the most cliché, melodramatic film of the year might just belong to “The Mountain Between Us.” A sentimental, survivalist tear jerker with two easily likable star personas in the form of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. They are not the problem, in fact, they have chemistry that helps make up for the script's shortcomings. The oddest realization is the director: Hany Abu-Assad, a renowned director known for his daft eye in showcasing cinema. This is his first step into mainstream movie going to say the least.
Based off the popular book, Elba plays Ben, a neurosurgeon trying to make his way back to a patient in Denver and Winslet is Alex, a photojournalist whose wedding takes place in less than 24 hours. The pair both face the same turmoil, when they get the news their flights have been postponed due to an impending storm. Time is of the essence, so they hire Walter (Beau Bridges) a charter pilot that doesn’t have to follow standard air nautical procedures.
The real movie begins with a spectacular disaster, as their plane crash lands atop a snow-covered ridge in what’s known as the High Uinta's Wilderness in northern Utah. You might say these two strangers could be screwed. Forcing the pair, and the pilot’s dog, to try and find their way back to civilization.
Except, it’s really not that simple. When they both come to, Alex’s leg is fractured and, like most survival stories, there’s extremely limited supplies. Ben also has a gashing wound on his side that could be internal bleeding. Alex invokes the “Rule of three:” People can survive three days without water, three hours without shelter, and three minutes without air. But the screenwriters forget an important rule also: give us a calculated scope of the story. How long do the characters have till they face death? How far do they need to walk in order to find someone who can help? It just feels like time passes' so freely, we don’t even realize it’s been three weeks until the characters mention it. After all, nothing in their face shows it’s been that long...at least the dog is fine.
Winslet, who is prone to her fair share of disaster flicks, really doesn’t do much in “Mountain” other than lie down, moan, and wait to be rescued by the luscious Ben. Alex, at first, is a very strong advocate for taking risks and trying to find help, but she always gets hurt, as ironic as it maybe, she really weighs the picture down. Elba, is a solid performer with terrific presence, but he’s yet to find that vehicle that could truly make him a star. Here, the script gives him cheesy dialogue, a backstory you could see coming a mile away, and instincts that hardly make sense.
As far as the couple go, they do look good together. The best moments are when the two are just sitting down and discussing their lives. Since the two are strangers, we are learning about them for the first time equally.
The other solid notion about “Mountain” is the film’s final twenty minutes. Where, for one brief instance, the film isn't predictable. It definitely ponders the question; “what happens next?”
Overall, the movie isn’t bad. The scenery is gorgeous, the two leads are appealing and nothing about the script jumps off the page. And the fact that we do care, somewhat, about the wellbeing of these people, would leave me to suggest that Assad and company successfully did what they wanted. Even if the film still comes up short of being above average. C