Dream team save shaky Moun­tain

Marlborough Express - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for both Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and Ben Bass (Idris Elba). She’s try­ing to get home for her wed­ding and he has emer­gency surgery to at­tend in Bal­ti­more. With all com­mer­cial flights now grounded, Ben gen­tly sug­gests she ‘‘gets a voucher be­fore the ho­tels fill up’’.

How­ever, the ever-re­source­ful pho­to­jour­nal­ist has a bet­ter idea – char­ter­ing a plane. For­tu­nately, she finds a will­ing pi­lot in Wal­ter (Beau Bridges) and Ben, some­what ap­pre­hen­sively, agrees to share the cost in or­der to hitch a lift.

Any un­ease he has proves hor­ri­bly jus­ti­fied, as while Wal­ter man­ages to stay ahead of a storm, a sud­den de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in his health sends the plane hurtling to­wards the vast and im­pos­ing High Uni­tas mountains and its ‘‘bil­lion acres of raw na­ture’’.

With Alex knocked un­con­scious, the scratched, bruised and rib-cracked Ben has to make a de­ci­sion – stay with the plane, or search for as­sis­tance.

It’s hard to be­lieve now that the dream-team­ing of Elba and

Winslet was ac­tu­ally the third choice (after Michael Fass­ben­der and Mar­got Rob­bie and Char­lie Hun­nam and Rosamund Pike).

Not only do they bring grav­i­tas and emo­tion to what is po­ten­tially a very slushy and pulpy premise, but they also boast gen­uine chem­istry and au­di­encecom­pelling charisma.

It’s a pity that J Mills Good­loe ( The Best of Me and The Age of Ade­line) and Chris Weitz ( Rogue One, About a Boy) can’t quite achieve lift-off.

Based on a 2011 book by Charles Martin, much of Moun­tain‘ s di­a­logue seems a bit too ex­po­si­tional and por­ten­tous (‘‘we can go three weeks with­out food, three days with­out wa­ter and three min­utes with­out air’’) and the ‘dan­ger brings an un­likely cou­ple to­gether’ back story is straight from the Speed play­book.

To its credit, Moun­tain doesn’t end in an ob­vi­ous place – an ex­tended coda adding more poignancy and emo­tional depth than tra­di­tional Hol­ly­wood ro­man­tic ac­tion dra­mas achieve.

And ku­dos to direc­tor (and his dy­namic duo) Hany Abu-As­sad ( Omar, Par­adise Now) for choos­ing to shoot on-lo­ca­tion, adding an ex­tra air – and chill – of au­then­tic­ity to pro­ceed­ings. In­deed, he el­e­vates the ac­tion and the drama through clever point-ofview shots and cam­era an­gles.

But in the end, that Moun­tain thor­oughly en­ter­tains – if not com­pletely en­thralls – is down to the cen­tral pair­ing.

Let’s just hope some­one finds them a slightly bet­ter-pol­ished script and more multi-di­men­sional sup­port­ing char­ac­ters to team up with next time. – James Croot Gil­lies McKin­non’s 2016 up­date of the 1949 Eal­ing Stu­dios’ clas­sic (it­self based on the real-life ground­ing of the SS Politi­cian) is far from sub­tle, but from Ed­die Iz­zard’s con­stantly black-af­fronted army man to Gre­gor Fisher’s schem­ing post­mas­ter there are plenty of panto-style char­ac­ters to stir the emo­tions. At times, the sub­plot of the lat­ter’s two daugh­ters and their prospec­tive mar­riages threat­ens to over­whelm pro­ceed­ings, but once the search for the smug­glers’ ill-got­ten gains be­gins, this al­co­hol-fu­elled farce starts to catch alight.

In the Dark, 9.30pm, Mon­day, UKTV

New four-part adap­ta­tion of Mark Billing­ham’s nov­els Time of Death and In The Dark about a Manchester po­lice detective who be­comes in­volved in a case in which the hus­band of her child­hood best friend is ac­cused of kid­nap­ping two young girls, be­fore deal­ing with an un­ex­pected tragedy.

Be­ing Evel, 8.30pm, Tues­day, Ma¯ori TV

Born in Butte, Mon­tana in 1938, Robert Craig ‘‘Evel’’ Knievel be­came a hero to mil­lions around the world through his mo­tor­cy­cle feats in the 1960s and 70s. Us­ing in­ter­vie­wees and archival footage, The Simp­sons.

Im­posters, 9.30pm, Wednesday, TVNZ2

Dark US com­edy that fo­cuses on a fe­male con artist who mar­ries peo­ple and then dis­ap­pears with their money. ‘‘It’s a shaggy, ridicu­lous, tonally in­con­sis­tent show, and in the first two episodes, its pac­ing leaves some­thing to be de­sired. But it owns its own nut­ti­ness, which al­lows the au­di­ence to ad­just its ex­pec­ta­tions ac­cord­ingly – and makes for a fun, un­ex­pected jour­ney,’’ wrote Va­ri­ety‘ s So­nia Saraiya

Dancer, 8.30pm, Thursday, Rialto

This 2016 doc­u­men­tary is about Sergei Pol­unin, a prodi­gious bal­let tal­ent who ques­tions his ex­is­tence and his com­mit­ment to dance just as he is about to be­come a leg­end. ‘‘A gen­tle in­quiry into how a gifted per­former dis­rupts his life in or­der to test his pas­sion,’’ wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rechtschaf­fen.

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba help el­e­vate the pulpy premise of The Moun­tain Be­tween Us.

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