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New Release Review - THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US review
Two survivors of a plane crash fall for one another while attempting to escape their predicament.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Hany Abu-Assad

Starring: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Dermot Mulroney, Beau Bridges

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US


A survival thriller by way of Nicholas Sparks, The Mountain Between Us joins the growing sub-genre of mediocre movies with nothing to recommend them aside from dazzling plane crash set-pieces. Like Knowing, Flight and Sully before it, Hany Abu-Assad's snowbound snoozer features a genuinely impressive piece of filmmaking involving a plane plunging out of the blue yonder, only for the rest of the film to inspire slumber.


THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Onboard this particular doomed flight are Kate Winslet's photo-journalist Alex and Idris Elba's brain surgeon Ben, two strangers who charter a Cessna together when their commercial flight is cancelled at Denver airport. Alex is due to be married the following day, while Ben is set to perform life-saving brain surgery on a 10-year-old boy, which might explain why they happily climb aboard a plane piloted by a clearly not all there Beau Bridges.

Wouldn't you just know it, poor old Beau suffers a stroke over the vast remoteness of the Rocky mountains, and the plane slams into the snowy wasteland below. Beau doesn't make it, but miraculously his dog (which seems to be a descendant of the racist mutt from Sam Fuller's White Dog, given it's dislike of Ben) survives without a scratch. Ben is fine, save for one of those designer scars that only makes him all the more handsome, though Alex is knocked out cold - just as well Ben's a surgeon, what?


THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

It seems odd to describe being involved in a plane crash as a stroke of fortune, but as accidents go, this is one of the most amenable. If I was one of two survivors of a disaster, I just know my companion would be a 60-year-old shoe salesman, and our lack of survival skills would kill us within two days. But Alex and Ben luck out by getting 'stuck' with an attractive member of the opposite sex who just happens to possess either life-saving skills, in Ben's case, or very useful equipment, like Alex's telephoto lens.

It's always commendable when an inter-racial romance is portrayed on screen without ever making a plot point of its dynamic (you couldn't imagine Ben and Alex being played by two American actors), and there are few couples you would rather watch fall in love more than Winslet and Elba, but their respective characters here are such one-dimensional dullards that the lack of spark between them is palpable. Their brain surgeon and photo-journalist are the sort of lazy stock archetypes that suggest Charles Martin, the author of the novel it's based on, learned his trade at the Mills & Boon Institute of Further Education. Neither feels remotely like a real person, and 'character development' consists of predictable backstory anecdotes involving their chosen professions.


THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Aside from an early animal attack (during which I found myself cheering on the animal), there's a lack of obstacles for the film's protagonists to overcome, and most of the movie simply consists of Alex and Ben trudging through the snow during the day, and engaging in tedious fireside chats at night in the caves and abandoned log cabins they conveniently stumble upon.

Aside from the crash that incites this non-drama, there's nothing memorable about The Mountain Between Us, although one worrying question still lingers in my mind. What happened to Ben's 10-year-old patient?

The Mountain Between Us is in UK/ROI cinemas October 6th.



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