TIFF Bell Lightbox Presents The Rise of Beefcake Cinema: ‘Cliffhanger’ a capable joyride of peaks and valleys
Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by Michael France and Sylvester Stallone
Cliffhanger grips you from the start.
The film opens with Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) scaling up the side of a mountain without the aid of a harness.
Once he reaches the peak, he comes across a couple, Hal and Sarah (Michael Rooker and Michelle Joyner), both of whom happen to be his friends.
Hal, an experienced climber himself, has broken his leg while they were on a climb, leading Gabe to come save them.
With the help of his girlfriend, Jessie (Janine Turner), Gabe is able to tether a line between a rescue helicopter and the precipice where they are precariously stranded.
Using a harness, Hal is able to pull himself to safety, across the ominous void. But when it’s Sarah’s turn, her equipment fails, leaving her hanging 4000 feet above ground.
In a split-second decision, Gabe throws caution to wind and goes after her, reaching her just as her harness snaps. Arms outstretched, he catches her, but as time and gravity fights against them, his grip begins to weaken.
Sarah pleads for her life, not wanting to die, but as her hand slips out of the glove that Gabe was hopelessly holding on to, she plummets to the ground, ending her life and irreversibly changing those of the people involved.
With an opening scene of such thrilling quality, Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger promises a white-knuckle, adrenaline-packed experience. With a number of entertaining set pieces, the film achieves in that regard, but poorly written characters and a lack of strong human elements make Cliffhanger a capable joyride of peaks and valleys.