By Bradley Griffith
Occasionally when you go into a movie with no real expectations you are presently surprised. More often, however, the movie somehow manages to be a disappointment despite the fact that you went into the theater not knowing what to expect. “The Mountain Between Us” falls into the latter category.
Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is late for her flight. She absolutely must make this flight out of Idaho. She’s getting married the very next day. The only problem is that a winter storm is moving in and all flights out have been cancelled.Alex doesn’t want the voucher for a hotel, she wants a flight out to her wedding.
Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a neurosurgeon in the same airport in the same predicament as Alex. He needs to get to Baltimore to perform surgery on a young boy in the morning. It’s critical to the boy’s survival that he get to Baltimore that very night. He receives the same explanations as Alex, and is offered his own hotel voucher.
Alex overhears Ben’s predicament. She has an idea that she believes will save them both. Alex wants to charter a small plane to take them to Denver where they can catch a commercial flight to their separate destinations. She asks Ben to join her in chartering the small plane, presumably so he can share the cost. Agreeing to get on that plane was either the worst decision of Ben’s life, or the best.
During the flight and over a million acres of snow-capped peaks and wilderness their pilot has a stroke. They quickly crash onto an icy mountaintop in the middle of nowhere. The pilot is dead and Alex injured her leg and is unconscious for several days. The pilot didn’t file a flight plan before leaving the airport, so it’s likely that no one knows where they are. With little food and an injured Alex, they are faced with the choice of staying at the plane and likely dying, or trying to walk out of the wilderness on their own, and still likely dying.
In large part the success of a movie like this revolves around the skill of the two actors and their chemistry together. Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are the only actors with any significant role in the movie. If they had no chemistry together, then you had no movie.
Winslet and Elba are both great actors, which is fortunate for the movie because it would have been a snore fest without their abilities. Still, despite their best efforts, they couldn’t quite save the film. While I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, I certainly wasn’t expecting a love story in a movie about two people stranded in the freezing wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.
If I told you that there was a plane crash, an attacking cougar, trek of many miles through several feet of snow, and near falls off craggy mountain peaks you would probably think that sounds like a good adventure movie. Having said all that, the biggest flaw in the movie was its failure to provide more adventure.
The movie needed more action and more adventure to such a harrowing ordeal. “The Revenant” is an example of a movie that provided more peril and more predicaments in a battle for survival. Instead, “The Mountain Between Us” provided more dialogue between Alex and Ben and more disagreements, rather than more obstacles they had to overcome to survive.
Make no mistake about it, Winslet and Elba were great in their roles. If not for their stellar performances, the movie would have been a total dud. Maybe if I had read the book that the movie is based on I would have known what to expect and enjoyed the movie more, rather than watching a movie at the higher theater prices that would have been better suited for a home rental.
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language.