Dream team save shaky Mountain
The Mountain Between Us (M, 103mins) Directed by Hany Abu-Assad ★★★ 1⁄ 2
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 audience-compelling 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. –
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba help elevate the pulpy premise of The Mountain Between Us.