Rated: R For language and violence. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: May 28, 1993 Released by: Columbia TriStar
Well, the beginning of the summer movie onslaught is finally upon us and this one opens up with a big bang.
From the opening sequence, Cliffhanger is nonstop action.
Sylvester Stallone plays Gabe Walker, a mountain climber who worked for the Colorado Park Ranger until a rescue he was involved in resulted in the death of a friend's girlfriend.
He's called back to duty by his one-time girlfriend (Janine Turner, Northern Exposure) to help in a rescue of a downed airplane. The stranded crash victims turn out to be a gang of murdering thugs headed by John Lithgow. They've stolen three suitcases containing $100 million from the Federal Reserve and they want the Rangers to help them find the bags that are strewn over the Rockies with homing devices in them.
Lithgow, who's a terrifically sadistic baddie, forces Gabe and his fellow Ranger, Hal (Michael Rooker) to scale sheer ice, creep along minuscule ledges and leap over deep gorges in their pursuit of the cash.
Besides having to deal with the treat of Lithgow's goons, for some reason the script has Stallone stripping down to his tank top in subzero weather. This guy can do anything!
The fighting sometimes resorts to predictable blows to the groin, and waiting until the hero is just about beaten to a pulp before he gets a last gasp of strength and rises up to finish off the villain. Stallone used this ploy effectively in all of his Rocky films.
The dialogue, co-written by Stallone, is silly but the breathtaking scenery (The Italian Alps pinch-hitting for the Rockies) and edge-of-your-seat action more than makes up for it.
From the spectacular plane crash to the nerve-wracking chases at dizzying heights, Cliffhanger, directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard II) is an exciting, adventurous start to a promising movie summer.