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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

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
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Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

Where is Davy Crockett when you need him? As we children of the 50s know, Davy "killed him a bear (pronounced "bar") when he was only three." The simplistic story for THE EDGE -- men get lost in the wilderness, bear chases men, men chase bear -- has men who are in desperate need of a bear exterminator.

Although the story sounds like a children's wilderness yarn, this one was written for an older crowd. In a minor subplot, there may or may not be a love triangle and an associated murder plot. From the show's trailers possible murderous intentions seem to be the heart of the film, but they aren't. Endless chase scenes of man and bear are.

The biggest surprise in the film are the names of the writer and the director. The writer, David Mamet, is one of the best screenwriters and playwrights working today. His cinematic body of work includes THE VERDICT, THE UNTOUCHABLES, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, THINGS CHANGE and, my personal favorite, HOUSE OF GAMES. The director, Lee Tamahori, burst onto the movie scene with his uniformly praised ONCE WERE WARRIORS. (Granted, his only other film, MULHOLLAND FALLS, is an unmemorable exercise in style.) Together these brilliant men have managed to fashion a mediocre tale of wilderness survival.

The only outstanding part of the movie is the breathtaking, aerial cinematography by Donald McAlpine, whose previous picture was last year's gorgeous ROMEO + JULIET. The rest of the film, although pleasant enough, has little to recommend it.

The story opens with a billionaire named Charles Morse flying to a remote cabin nestled between snow crusted mountains. Morse is played with his usual charm by Anthony Hopkins in the only interesting performance in the film. Charles's hobby is knowing everything about everything, especially about wilderness survival. He knows the tricks people have used throughout history to survive, and this knowledge soon proves invaluable.

Accompanying him is his beautiful wife, Mickey, played by Elle Macpherson. Mickey is a fashion model who is there to shoot a photo spread in the woods. She is accompanied by her photographer, Robert "Bob" Green (Alec Baldwin) and Robert's aide Stephen (Harold Perrineau Jr.), whose only purpose in the film is to be the expendable one. Baldwin plays his role rather laconically instead of imbuing his character with the mystery called for.

On a flight to find an Indian to put in the picture with Mickey, a plane with just the men aboard crashes. The three men then set off on their quest to be rescued beginning with a lecture from Charles on what happens to most lost people. "They die of shame," he explains. "Because they didn't do the one thing that would save their lives -- thinking." Well, Charles does their thinking for them, including creating a compass from the raw materials at hand.

The picture has numerous hard-to-believe sequences, but none more so that the many confrontations with the bear, played by "Bart the Bear." I hate to disparage an animal actor, but he looked too much like the singing animatronic bear from Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree to be frightening. Maybe Bart needed better lines.

For a wilderness film, it has less tension than most. Charles and Bob seem subconsciously confident that their rescuers will eventually arrive. "Our friend's a billionaire," is how Bob explains it to Stephen. "You know what happens when they misplace one."

If the studio had misplaced this movie, not much would have been lost. And, except for the undeniably beautiful setting, there is little worth trying to save.

THE EDGE runs 1:57. It is rated R for a few gory scenes and some profanity. The film would be fine for teenagers. Although beautiful to behold, there is not enough compelling material to make the picture worth recommending. I give it **.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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