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Cliffhanger
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Reviews & Ratings for
Cliffhanger More at IMDbPro »

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64 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Almost Stallone's best

9/10
Author: AwesomeWolf from Australia
13 May 2005

I don't think I'll ever understand the hate for Renny Harlin. 'Die Hard 2' was cool, and he gave the world 'Cliffhanger', one of the most awesome action movies ever. That's right, you little punks, 'Cliffhanger' rules, and we all know it.

Sly plays Gabe Walker, a former rescue climber who is 'just visiting' his old town when he is asked to help a former friend, Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker), assist in a rescue on a mountain peak. Walker obviously came back at a convenient time, because the stranded people are actually a sophisticated team of thieves led by Eric Qualen (John Lithgow). Qualen & co. have lost a whole lot of money they stole from the U.S. government somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and they really would like it back...

Essentially, 'Cliffhanger' is another 'Die Hard' clone. Just trade in the confines of Nakatomi Plaza to the open mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains, complete with scenes created to point out the weaknesses of our hero and keep him mortal. Naturally, that set up is totally ripped to shreds soon enough, as Stallone's character avoids quite a large number of bullets with ease, and slams face-first into several rock faces with no apparent side-effects. After all, isn't that what action movies are all about?

'Cliffhanger' is one of the most exciting action movies around. A showcase of great scenes and stunts. One of the early stunts is one of the best stunts I've ever seen in a movie, and while the rest of the movie does not get any better than it did at the beginning, it maintains its action awesomeness. John Lithgow's lead villain is entertaining, and one bad dude. Quite possibly one of the coolest lead villains ever.

'Cliffhanger' is easily one of Stallone's best efforts, definitely Renny Harlin's best effort, and a very exciting action movie - 9/10

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47 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Action Classic!

8/10
Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
23 July 2004

Sly's best out and out action film. It is a superbly enjoyable movie with some interesting characters, solid performances and Renny Harlins direction is stylishly assured. Stallone is rarely this interesting in his action films and he certainly looks the part in terms of the action scenes. This was one of the best action films of the year and one of the most thrilling and enjoyable of the 90's, a definite genre classic. As a Stallone fan this is one I look back on with fond memories. Plenty of superb action and Sly in prime action man form. Action lovers appreciate this film because it has all the hallmarks that make a good aciton film. The film looks great and there is great support from Janine Turner, Michael Rooker and John Lithgow. ****

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35 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

The majestic mountains are a magnificent character in the film!

7/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
9 July 2007

Wracked with guilt after a lot of things felt apart on that ledge, an ace mountain rescue climber Gabriel Walker (Stallone) comes back for his girlfriend Jessie (Janine Turner), while over the cloudy skies where the weather looks a bit threatening, a spectacularly precarious mid-air hijacking goes wrong and $100 million taken from a Treasury Department plane get lost in the middle of nowhere followed by a crash landing…

Stranded off the snowy peaks, and needing mountain guides to win back the stolen cash, the high-trained hikers make an emergency call asking the help of a rescue unit…

Unfortunately, Gab and Hall (Michael Rooker) have to team up to arrive at the scene of the crash unaware that the distress call was a fake, and a bunch of merciless terrorists led by a psychotic (John Lithgow),are waiting for them only to find out a way off the stormy mountain with the dumped cases of money…

With breathtaking shots, vertiginous scenery, dizzying heights, perilous climbs, freezing temperatures, "Cliffhanger" is definitely Stallone's best action adventure movie…

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46 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Prepare yourselves for an awesome thrill ride

Author: Michael Sibley
30 July 2004

Hold on for dear life as Sylvester Stallone takes you on the ride of a lifetime. With extreme non-stop action, gripping and suspense-filled scenes; Stallone has proven why he is a SUPERSTAR with his role in "Cliffhanger." I knew I would be in for an action packed treat as soon as I realized Stallone was starring in this film; however, I failed to realized how great the other actors were in this film.

Stallone is joined by Michael Rooker, Janine Turner and John Lithgow as they produce quite possibly the best action film of 1993. The cast is perfectly selected and chosen to play their parts. It was a joy to see a reversal of roles. I'm not accustomed to seeing Rooker as a hero or Lithgow as a villain; it is a refreshing change.

I couldn't have asked for a better villain than Lithgow. He is one of the most ruthless and cunning villains I've seen. I enjoyed how he never let anything get in his way and spared no expense to get what he wanted. I'm glad I got the chance to see him play the villain and hope I see it again.

Turner gives tremendous support to this film and creates an atmosphere where it is enjoyable to watch. She is the heat that warms a cold room because everytime she comes on screen it seems as though it is hot. It is a delight to see an incredible actress to have that much power. Rooker makes up the other the third of talented actors that makes "Cliffhanger" a delight to watch. Rooker brings a fresh view to the film as well as credibility; all I have to say is awesome work, Michael.

There is an avalanche of talent in "Cliffhanger." Stallone is an unstoppable force and incredible action hero. After watching "Cliffhanger," I'm convinced that Stallone was the only man for this job. Stallone had the fire in his eyes for this part that told me he means business. Only true action stars have the fire I saw; furthermore, I was fascinated with the strength, power and conviction with which he took on the role.

Another reason I enjoyed "Cliffhanger" was the writing because it contained unbelievable action sequences, a man dealing with redemption and dialogue is awesome. I was impressed to see that Stallone also co-wrote the script because he really has a knack for what action fans want.

"Cliffhanger" is a super-charged, heart-racing, suspense-filled action thrill ride that you should take because at the end it will leave you asking for more.

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38 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Ah, nostalgia for an old-fashioned action movie!

8/10
Author: PhilipJames1980 from Annapolis, Maryland.
20 February 2004

Watching Cliffhanger makes me nostalgic for the early '90s, a time when virtually every new action movie could be described as "Die Hard in a /on a." Cliffhanger is "Die Hard on a mountain," and pretty good, for what it is.

But unlike Passenger 57 and Under Siege, which are decent Die Hard clones on their own terms, Cliffhanger dispenses with the enclosed feeling of many action movies and embraces breathtaking landscapes that, in their immensity, threaten to overwhelm and trivialize the conflicts of the people fighting and dying among the peaks.

Years before other movies like A Simple Plan and Fargo dramatized crime and murder on snowbound locations, Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin recognized the visual impact of juxtaposing brutal violence and grim struggles to survive against cold and indifferent natural surroundings.

The opening sequence has already received substantial praise, all of which it deserves: its intensity allows us to forget the artifice of the camera and the actors and simply believe that what we are seeing is actually happening. Not even Harlin's shot of the falling stuffed animal, which is powerfully effective but still threatens to become too much of a joke (and which he repeated in Deep Blue Sea), or the ridiculous expression on Ralph Waite's face, can dim the sequence's power.

The next impressive set-piece is the gunfight and heist aboard the jet. As written by Stallone and Michael France and directed by Harlin, the audience is plunged into the action by not initially knowing which agents are involved in the theft and which are not: the bloody double-crosses are completely unexpected. As Roger Ebert has observed, the stuntman who made the mid-air transfer between the planes deserves some special recognition.

Later, during the avalanche sequence, one of the terrorists/thieves appears to be actually falling as the wall of snow carries him down the mountain. So far as I know, no one was killed in the making of this movie (a small miracle, considering the extreme nature of some of the stunts), so obviously a dummy was used for the shot. But the shot itself remains impressive because we're left wondering how Harlin (or more likely one of the second-unit directors) knew exactly where to place the camera.

I'll take Sly Stallone as my action hero any day of the week, because he's one of the few movie stars I've ever seen who's completely convincing as someone who can withstand a lot of physical and emotional pain, and at the same time actually feels that pain. The role of Gabe Walker really complements Stallone's acting strengths: he plays an older, more vulnerable kind of action hero, giving an impressively low-key performance as a mountain rescuer who must redeem himself.

In contrast to many of today's post-Matrix, comic book-inspired action heroes, Stallone's Walker is an ordinary man who becomes a hero without any paranormal or computer-enhanced abilities. In Cliffhanger, the hero almost freezes to death, and his clothes start to show big tears as he barely escapes one dangerous situation after another. He winces when he's hit and bleeds when he's cut, particularly in the cavern sequence when he takes a Rocky-style pummeling from one of the mad-dog villains.

It should be noted that the utterly despicable villains really contribute to the movie's effectiveness: when I first saw this movie as a teenager, I was rooting for the good guys every step of the way and anticipating when another bad guy would bite the dust (or rather, the ice); at one point I actually cheered as one of the most cold-blooded characters in the movie deservedly suffered a violent demise.

Lithgow's British accent is as unconvincing as the movie's occasional model plane or model helicopter, but he's fundamentally a good actor, and one of the few who can perfectly recite silly dialogue: in one scene, looking at his hostages Stallone and Rooker, trying to decide which tasks to give them, he actually says "You, stay! You, fetch!" Even a better actor, such as Anthony Hopkins, might have had trouble with that line.

Even if Cliffhanger occasionally tosses credibility aside, it does so only for the sake of a more entertaining show.

Early in the movie, for example, Lithgow openly says to one of his men "Retire [Stallone] when he comes down." No real criminal mastermind would have made this mistake even unconsciously: his carelessness allows Rooker to shout a warning up to Sly on the rock face, and this precipitates a gripping tug-of-war between Stallone and the bad guys trying to pull him down by the rope tied to his leg.

Lithgow could have given his order by a more subtle means, but the sequence might not have been as much fun to watch if it hadn't given Rooker an opportunity to openly defy the arrogance of his captor.

Done very much in the style of a Saturday matinee serial or (at times) a Western, Cliffhanger is built on such a solid foundation that it survives some weak elements that would have undermined a lesser film.

Besides the painfully obvious aircraft models mentioned before, the weak moments include a couple of scenes shot on cheap indoor sets with REALLY fake snow, as well as two other scenes involving bats and wolves that seem unnecessary in an already action-packed narrative. Finally, Harlin's decision to film some of the death scenes in slow motion seems pointless, since the technique contributes nothing to the scenes.

It's a shame that Stallone is now too old for action movies, because his character in this movie seems so credible that inevitably I wonder what he would be like years later. But perhaps it's best that Cliffhanger stands on its own for all time, without a sequel: there are enough tired and obsolete movie franchises already. There was an unofficial sequel that called itself Vertical Limit: compared to that clinker, Cliffhanger belongs on the IMDb's Top 250 list.

Rating: 8 (Very good, especially considering most of Stallone's other movies.)

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25 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

The BEST action movie!

Author: 600Nitro from Here, Sometimes
4 October 2003

Since I first saw this in the theater it has been my favorite. Since then I've seen it countless times and I never get tired of it. The setting has a lot to do with it (the Colorado I know would be jealous), but the storyline is original and I liked how it used small town mountain folk as the heroes. There has not been a movie I can compare this too. John Lithgow plays a smart villain, but I love how he is completely out of his element--he has to follow Tucker around and that's what keeps it interesting. This is an action movie at it's BEST. I don't think I'll see another that is so entertaining.

You don't need 50,000 rounds fired to qualify as an action movie. It just has to keep you captivated, not shell-shocked.

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Last great Sly movie !

8/10
Author: nick_rog46 from Québec, Canada
30 November 2005

To be honest, I didn't like that much this movie when I saw it for the first time. But I guess the trouble is that I haven't seen it in a theater. Big Mistake ! Because the #1 thing to see in Cliffhanger is the settings and #2 is the cinematography. Try to see this movie on the largest TV possible and a great sound system. The music is good and puts the movie to a higher level (and a commercial potential). The more I see it, the more I like it.

It's definitely one of Renny Harlin's best movie. THis guy knows about action. Die Hard 2, The long kiss good bye, etc. And it's particularly good in this movie. The special effect are great and spectacular. Stallone really needed that movie get back with success. Still good to see him !

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23 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Not the most intelligent movie, but enjoyable and one of the better in the genre

7/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
7 April 2005

I'm far from a Sylvester Stallone fan and I guess the only time I really appreciated his appearance was in the French movie Taxi 3, which is an almost inexistent small role. And yet I must admit that this movie was actually not that bad, even though I feared the worst.

When Gabe (Stallone) fails to rescue the girlfriend of one of his friends and she plunges to her death from a 4000 feet high mountain top, he can't possibly force himself to keep working as a mountain ranger. For almost a year he doesn't set a food in the reserve, but than he returns. Soon after he's back, they get an emergency call from a group of hikers who got trapped in a snow storm. At least, that's what the rangers believe. In reality it is a group of robbers who crashed with their airplane in the mountains after their daring plan to steal cases full of money from a flying government plane failed. The cases are spread all over the reserve and they need the help of professional climbers to retrieve them...

This is of course not one of the most intelligent movies ever, but in its genre it's an enjoyable one. I especially enjoyed John Lithgow as the evil master mind and leader of the gang of robbers. I know him best from the TV-series "3rd Rock from the Sun", but I enjoyed his performance in this movie as well. Overall the acting is OK, it had a lot of action to offer and of course also some one-liners, but it also offered a very nice decor. This movie was filmed in a magnificent natural environment. I loved the snowy mountains and valleys, the mountain rivers and the forests... Perhaps that's why I give this movie a score higher than what I normally give to an action / adventure movie of this kind. I give it a 6.5/10. If you don't expect too much, this is an enjoyable movie.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Cliffhanger A Decent Action Crime Adventure With Some Flaws

7/10
Author: tburke85 from United States
28 June 2009

Cliffhanger is a decent action crime adventure with some flaws from director Renny Harlin whose admirable in making this movie about an expert climber who finds himself taken hostage with a fellow friend by a gang of dangerous criminals on the search for suit cases full of stolen cash in the Rocky Mountains. Sylvester Stallone is impressive as Gabe Walker the expert climber especially in the action/fight sequences but some of them definitely border on the line of unrealistic. For the sake of the film though I willing to suspend my disbelief. The rest of the cast including John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, and Leon are respectable as the supporting characters in the movie. The action/fight sequences are well executed but as mentioned before some aren't very realistic no matter how tough you are. The climbing sequences however are very well done because instead of doing the whole film in a studio somewhere the locations they chose felt very real and the Ariel views of the mountain ranges are marvelous adding a touch of reality to the movie. The deaths are inventive while others are sort of predictable. The villains are solid but it would've been better if they had focused on a more central one instead of having many of them. The pacing of the movie was a little slow but the good outweighs the bad in this one. If you're a big fan of Harlins or Stallone's than chances are you'll enjoy this one too. Overall Cliffhanger has character development with enough action, drama, some suspense, excitement, thrills, and good performances by the cast who make this movie worth the time to watch.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Good and Bad

6/10
Author: dylan-ransom from South Korea
19 November 2005

Every time a movie comes out which features rock climbing and mountain travel/rescue, I cringe with anticipation, notepad in hand, and annoy all my friends with my nitpicking. So, let me get that out of the way first. I counted approximately 100 factual and technical errors related to geography, climbing, mountain travel and rescue. Let's just say it was atrocious, though not as bad as "Vertical Limit".

Viewed purely as a mindless action flick, I must say I was entertained. The film was visually stunning with engaging action sequences. The acting was superb- those poor bastards did all they could with their ridiculous characters and inadequate, clichéd script. Cheers to Lithgow, Stallone, and Rooker in particular.

I could be pretentious and pick the whole damn thing apart, but I think Renny Harlin did exactly what he set out to do- entertain.

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