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The Edge

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Edge

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin
Director: Lee Tamahori
Rated: R
RunTime: 117 Minutes
Release Date: September 1997
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Elle MacPherson, L.Q. Jones, Kathleen Wilhoite, Harold Perrineau Jr., David Lindstedt

Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

It's difficult to imagine a screenwriter like David Mamet not receiving the respect he deserves from the Hollywood community. In 1992 he presented two screenplays which made one good and one great film. 'Hoffa', the good film starring Jack Nicholson was an original screenplay written by Mamet based on the real life Teamsters president and the great film was 'Glengarry Glen Ross' based on Mamet's own Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Mamet received no Oscar nomination for either script. In fact, I believe Mamet has only been nominated once for adapting 1982's 'The Verdict' from Barry Reed's novel. Mamet also adapted 1987's 'The Untouchables' for the big screen. Mamet wrote and skillfully directed 1991's 'Homicide' which made many '10 best lists' about a Chicago policeman coming to terms with his faith and his duties of conscience. Mamet is the finest writer in Hollywood along with other greats like William Goldman, Woody Allen, Oliver Stone and the Coen Brothers. All of these people have won Oscars for their writing but not Mamet. To many the Academy Award is of no great importance but even though some say it's no big deal, they're liars if they don't feel a certain sense of pride in being recognized by their peers.

In 'The Edge', Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin star as two men eventually trapped in the Alaskan wilderness (the film was in fact shot in Alberta, Canada) and they fight to survive the climate, hunger, the lack of shelter and the occasional bear ! The story begins at a vacation getaway where we learn that Hopkins is a billionaire married to a fashion model (Elle Macpherson) and there are other assorted friends and business associates tagging along including a fashion photographer, played by Baldwin who has an eye for Hopkins' wife. Baldwin suggests that he and Hopkins and another man go on a short plane ride to visit a native American whom Baldwin feels will be instrumental in photographing for his most recent layout. Their plane crashes and the pilot is killed and the third man along with Hopkins and Baldwin is mauled by a bear leaving Hopins and Baldwin to fight for themselves. Before the plane crashes, Hopkins hints that Baldwin's agenda for the trip is to kill him in order to claim his wife the fortune she will possess.

The interesting thing about this movie is that Hopkins plays his role of the billionaire as a man who always desired to have something unlikely happen to him so while he would like to be rescued eventually, the audience sees him almost enjoying the challenge of being put to the test for his time in the wilderness and his character never loses his cool and by recognizing the potential of becoming a victim of his own panic and avoiding any sense of shame that may do him in makes his character noble and beyond the stereotype many have of the wealthy. Baldwin's character is not nearly as interesting but he pulls off his role with a passing grade.

David Mamet has addressed all the important formulas in screen writing such as grabbing audience attention within the first ten minutes, having a plot point turn setting up the important part of the story at about the half hour point, keeping his writing alive and addressing the three basic points of conflict, man vs. man., man vs. nature and man vs. himself. With stimulating direction from Lee Tamahori and sensational photography to boot, 'The Edge' is a gripping morality tale which is absorbing, convincing and ends perfectly in a very subtle fashion.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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