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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 Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

Just as the men-lost-in-the-woods genre seemed to fizzle out, along comes THE EDGE, a fresh, clever film written by fresh, clever David Mamet. His screenplay combines elements of his action movies like Homicide with his dialogue-driven plays on film like GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, not a combination I would have forseen as successful. A lot of what makes THE EDGE work lies in the performances of its two leads -- Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.

Hopkins plays a billionaire who accompanies his model wife (model Elle Macpherson) and some others to the wilds of Alaska for an exotic photo shoot. Early on, two important details are cleverly established -- Hopkins has a super-human level of book smarts never put to practical use and Baldwin is jealous of Hopkins, in particular his choice of a spouse.

The next day, Elle is decked out in Indian garb for a photo shoot that needs a male model. Baldwin, the photographer, is determined to find a man for this shoot and happens upon a portrait of a buff native. The owner points them in the direction of this guy and four of them take off in Hopkins' private plane to find him. The trip is not a success; the plane goes down and the pilot dies. The three who are left, Hopkins, Baldwin and his assistant (Harold Perrineau) are stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no chance of rescue in the foreseeable future.

It all could have turned into SWISS FAMILY HOPKINS right about this point, but THE EDGE continues its level of brooding brilliance through all of Hopkins' chances to test out everything he's read. Mamet isn't subtle with foreshadowing, having Hopkins reading "Lost in the Woods" a few minutes before he steps on the plane and asking Baldwin, "How are you planning to kill me?" just before the plane goes down, but the movie is way above the expected plot twists.

From the preview, I thought the whole movie would be Baldwin stalking Hopkins in the woods, but THE EDGE keeps us guessing about the Baldwin angle until the last half-hour or so. It's man vs. nature until then, with the three stranded men scavenging for survival and fighting the enormous "Bart the Bear," who should have been the fourth-billed star in the movie. On paper, all of this seems like cliche, but even the bear fights are tense and pulsing with intelligence.

Hopkins is always good, but after seeing THE EDGE , it seems impossible that his character in THE EDGE could have been done justice by anyone else. Baldwin's character could have been played by a million other actors, yeah, but he does a good job here, and reminded me that he can be effective when he has the writing to back him up. In stuff like THE JUROR, he was at the mercy of his material, but in anything Mamet-related (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS), he is terrific. And it's interesting casting him here as a man with a killer jealousy for someone else's wife; as Kim Basinger's husband, Baldwin has probably been called "lucky stiff" by a million beer- swilling blue collar workers.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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