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Cliffhanger
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Reviews & Ratings for
Cliffhanger More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Another great action movie with Sylvester Stallone!

7/10
Author: Brian-272 from Oakwood, Virginia USA
27 June 2001

If you want the thrills, excitement, terror, danger, and just all out drama and action then this is the movie for you. One of the biggest stars around Sylvester Stallone is just magnificent with this role especially some of the stunts he does, this role has Stallone as a mountain-rescue worker attempting to recover money stolen from the U.S. Treasury. Not only is the action and thrilling drama of Cliffhanger great, but the spectacular scenery and special effects are just great. This movie is a must watch for any guy who loves action films so have a blast!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"It costs a fortune to heat this place"

6/10
Author: The_Movie_Cat from England
25 June 2000

Along with 1993's other vehicle, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger is probably the peak(!) of Stallone's "going through the motions" (c. 1985-1996) period.

Sylvester treads water almost as much as he treads rock in this one, though post-Copland it doesn't seem to matter anymore. Stallone acts again, and so candyfloss capers like this can be looked back upon as a lightweight bit of fun. The film opens with a scene which, while predictable, cannot help but get the palms sweating. "Don't look down!" indeed. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie becomes a preposterous artillery hunt for some missing cash and the high level of tension in the first five minutes is therefore absent throughout the rest of the film. You can laugh at the illogic, and snigger at the Perspex (supposed to be glass) on the villains' plane, flapping in the wind, but you can never recapture what that first scene promised.

One upsetting thing is John Lithgow as a Brit villain. I long for a Hollywood exec (preferably a pretty blonde one) to give me a reassuring hug, tell me everything's alright and that America doesn't hate the English. (There's even a review on the IMDb from a guy in Texas that adds "and even the English dude was good" – like it was a miracle for an English actor to give a decent performance.) Until that happens I guess I'll have to settle for seeing movies where English wars are won by the US, and the villains always have clear-cut Cambridge accents. Or, in Craig Fairbrass' case, an East-End one. Seeing Fairbrass as a minor henchman in this film is a nice touch, as he's now very famous in Britain as the barman lothario Dan Sullivan from soap opera "Eastenders". (Incidentally, while an Englishman might, possibly, say "soccer" instead of football, they would never use the word "punk" as an insult. Okay?)

It's also a nice change to see Sylvester play a part where he's not actually that tough, and only gets to live through sheer luck and determination. It would have been nicer to have seen him tackle the taller and similarly-muscled Fairbrass, but as it is even John Lithgow sends him to bed with no supper.

There are the occasional funny lines (such as the title quote after Stallone has burnt money in order to keep warm), and Lithgow is likeably over the top as Eric Qualen. You're never rewarded with anything you don't expect to see, and the ending is a little abrupt, but this is a passable way to spend an hour or two. I used to really hate Cliffhanger, but it isn't so bad. Just simple, average action entertainment.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One Of Stallone's Better Efforts.

7/10
Author: LagerLagerLagerShouting from England
30 April 2008

This run-of-mill actioner has all the basic cliché ingredients of the genre but is set apart by its unique isolated setting and some amazing stunt-work. The typical 90's action aesthetic is it play here, that of a fallen anti-hero protagonist who, traumatised by a passed event, comes back to save the day. This coupled with your typical trigger-happy bad guys, unpredictable head psycho, characteristic female moral conscious and the right hand man who was once your friend offers a predictable premise. But the set-pieces and spectacular scenery shine through and throw in some great one-liners then you have a pretty entertaining night in with some beers.

7/10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Cracking actioner from Sly and the gang.

8/10
Author: JohnRouseMerriottChard from United Kingdom
15 March 2008

Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is an expert climber, but after a tragic incident leaves a girl dead, he leaves the mountains to get his head together. After his self imposed break he returns in the hope of rekindling a relationship with Jessie (Janine Turner). Whilst at the rescue centre he is called to help a group who are stranded in the mountains, he agrees to help out this one last time, unaware that the group in the mountains are heavily armed, murderous thieves, and they need help of another kind.

Directed by Renny Harlin, this is one of those films that shows that Stallone once had box office clout as big as his bodily frame. It's a delightful no brain action film that delivers royally to those with a bent for the action genre. What really lifts Clifhanger above average is the wonderful use of suspenseful situations. The film opens with a quite breathtaking sequence and then kicks on to literally have us hanging on by our fingernails. The bad guys are deliciously over the top, none more so than the bullishly nasty John Lithgow as Eric Qualen, whilst Sly gets beefcake support from the ever reliable Michael Rooker. Cinematography by Alex Thomson is gorgeous as he brings to life the Cortina d'Ampezzo area of the Dolomites in Italy. Score is by Trevor Jones, who keeps it orchestral as he lifts from his own work for Last of the Mohicans, which in turn is mixed with what sounds like the lead theme of Alan Silvestri's work on Predator.

Slam bang action, tense fraught moments, and a script written with knowing tongue in cheek persuasion, Cliffhanger literally does ROCK. 7.5/10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A halfway reasonable Die Hard imitation

7/10
Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
19 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Die Hard certainly had an impact on the action film genre. I can't think of another action film replicated or alluded to more. Films like Under Siege, Speed, Passenger 57 all have the same basic premise. Cop or special forces guy find themselves cornered by terrorists or criminals, and gradually outmanoeuvre them. And Cliffhanger definitely falls into that category.

When I first saw Cliffhanger, I loved it. I thought it made use of great stunts, dizzy-inducing mountain climbs and exciting action sequences. But as the years passed, and I've grown a bit wiser, Cliffhanger doesn't quite do for me what it used to.

It's a film that requires you to suspend disbelief a little too much. Not surprising considering it's directed by Renny Harlin. He tends to specialise in action films barely held together by explosive action scenes with little regard for characterisation or plot development.

Harlin previously directed Die Hard 2, a film with many of the same problems as Cliffhanger. Die Hard has layers of sophistication and style that Harlin is unable to bring forth in his films. I'm sorry but he's no John McTiernan. Still, despite its flaws Cliffhanger does hold your attention fairly well, the location shooting is often breathtaking, and some of the action scenes are really spectacular.

Cliffhanger was billed as Sylvester Stallone's comeback film after his disastrous attempts at comedy. In fact, the only time I ever liked him in a comical role was Demolition Man. That film worked because it was a very funny satirical vision of the future, and Stallone was helped no end by the ebullient comic timing of Sandra Bullock. Cliffhanger certainly has its shortcomings, but its better than the dreadful Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot!

Gabe Walker (Stallone) is the leader of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Team. When his best friend Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) is stuck on a mountain ledge with his girlfriend Sarah, Gabe leads a rescue party. Gabe rigs a support line to a rescue helicopter, but Sarah's safety harness comes loose. In one of the best scenes, Gabe has to struggle to hold on to Sarah. Filled with quick pans and close-ups, that is a very nail-biting scene. Tragically, Sarah slips from his grasp and plunges to her death.

Eight months later, Gabe has returned to the mountains after a self-imposed exile. Gabe has lost his nerve, and doesn't want to be responsible for any more lives. But a chance for redemption presents itself when a Treasury Jet with a hundred million dollars on board is hijacked by a group of terrorists led by the psychotic (and sarcastic) Eric Qualen (John Lithgow in British Alan Rickman mode).

The plot goes awry when the money falls into the mountains and Qualen's plane crashes. With no way to get down, Qualen sends out a fake distress call picked up by Hal. When he goes alone Jessie, Gabe's ex convinces Gabe to help. Although Hal is in no mood since he blames Gabe for Sarah's death.

The two are captured by Qualen's men, and forced to lead a search through the mountains for the missing money. But Gabe manages to escape, and teamed up with Jessie, plays a game of cat and mouse with Qualen's gang to get to the money first.

If reading any of this has left you scratching your heads in disbelief, its not hard to see why. Cliffhanger has so many inconsistencies and glaring plot holes you may find yourself cracking up at the absurdity of it all. Still, Stallone is in his element and he's up to the strenuous stuff. But you wonder why they bothered with the beginning, plunging Gabe into a crisis of confidence. Once the action has started, that idea is dropped and it never resurfaces.

Cliffhanger is also an action film that's a little rough around the edges. Some of the editing is clumsy and not as tight as it should have been. For example, Gabe has driven off making it clear he wants nothing to do with any rescue attempts. The next time we see him he's on the mountain ahead of Hal. We get the impression there may have been a scene in between showing him changing his mind, but that's been left on the cutting room floor. Harlin may have been going for slick, but honestly it comes off as a hatchet job.

John Lithgow is completely over the top, but at least he gets a lot of memorable one liners. Lithgow is an odd choice for an action film villain, and its clear he's trying to channel a bit of Hans Gruber into his performance, but he can't quite pull it off. A pity really considering John Lithgow is a fine actor most of the time.

Janine Turner gets a thankless role as the love interest. Her performance as Jessie is really bad, and her character is so poorly written because of the way she alternates from feisty to useless screamer. When you think of Sandra Bullock in some of her action films, you will see how this character could have been played.

There are some memorable action scenes to be had though. As well as the opening one, there's a great moment where an actual stuntman makes his way across a cable from one plane to the next in midair. That's a fine bit of stunt-work, and gives new meaning to death-defying. I also like the scene when Gabe falls through the ice being pursued by one of Qualen's men, his fight with Qualen on a helicopter, and the lovely closing shot of the mountains.

Cliffhanger is by no means motion picture poetry. But it's not a bad way to spend an hour and a half, and you do cheer along when some of the villains get their comeuppance. You just wish it were a bit more coherent.

But then, they can't all be Die Hard, can they?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Stallone Is Good In Mountain Actioner

7/10
Author: CitizenCaine from Las Vegas, Nevada
19 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Renny Harlin directs this white knuckle thriller starring Sylvester Stallone as a mountain climber/rescuer who is having second thoughts about his work. This is due to the fact that he loses his friend's girlfriend while trying to rescue her, and she falls to her death. Stallone is then in conflict with his friend, Michael Rooker, for the remainder of the film. Meanwhile a group of international wackos, of course, have hijacked a plane containing $100,000,000 dollars; they end up crashing into a mountain while the money, which is enclosed in suitcases, ends up scattered over the mountains. Stallone is good and believable, most of the time, as the rescuer taking a second chance in life. Michael Rooker provides tension as Stallone's friend who feels Stallone is responsible for his girlfriend's death. John Lithgow is the leader of the crooks after the money. Lithgow is absolutely menacing as a man with no conscience who only looks out for himself and the money. The movie was filmed in the Italian Alps substituting for the Rocky Mountains, and the eye-popping stunts, fantastic cinematography, group of characters, and fast pace action keep us interested. However, the film is rather formulaic in its execution, and the story is not always believable, but it is enjoyable nevertheless. *** of 4 stars.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Loud, violent and hugely entertaining

6/10
Author: Libretio
27 January 2005

CLIFFHANGER

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: 6-track Dolby Stereo SR

(35mm and 70mm release prints)

Members of a rescue team are taken hostage by ruthless criminals searching for stolen money lost somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

After an unpleasant opening sequence in which Sylvester Stallone's fearless mountaineer loses one of his friends in a tragic accident (staged and edited to maximise the suffering of the victim prior to death), Renny Harlin's bombastic potboiler retreats into familiar blockbuster territory, as Stallone and co-stars Michael Rooker (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) and Janine Turner (TV's "Northern Exposure") fall victim to psychopath John Lithgow and his gang of ruthless assassins. Their cartoonish villainy is matched by Stallone's equally flamboyant heroism, which finds him dressed in the flimsiest of attire in sub-zero temperatures whilst dodging bullets and missiles of every conceivable description! It sounds ridiculous - and it is! - but Harlin throws logic and subtlety to the wind and stages the crowd-pleasing action scenes with expert precision. Eye-popping cinematography by Alex Thomson. Co-stars include Ralph Waite, Paul Winfield, Craig Fairbrass and Leon.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Top 5 action movie of the 90's

9/10
Author: xtn_cs from Norway
25 May 2009

This movie is just great. It's entertaining from beginning to the end, you're always gonna be at the edge of your seat throughout the entire movie. In my opinion this movie is highly underrated by the critics.

Sly suits perfectly into the role of the well trained mountain-rescue guy Gabe Walker. Together with him Michael Rooker makes a great appearance as Hal Tucker. And then, John Lithgow, one of the best performances I've seen of him as a villain.

And the fact that 75% of the movie takes place at a mountain with a whole lot of bad guys on it makes way for a lot of action!

Brilliant movie!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Die Hard on a mountain but still quite enjoyable

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
30 June 2002

When Hal Tucker's girlfriend dies in a botched mountain rescue, Gabe blames himself and leaves. Years later he returns for his own girlfriend. Meanwhile a cash transfer by plane gets hijacked and the cases are lost in the mountains. The hijackers use Tucker and Gabe to recover the mountain however Gabe escapes and must get the cases before the criminals to in order to bargain for Hal's life.

Stallone's sort of semi-come back film, Cliffhanger is yet another `Die Hard in a……' type film. However that doesn't mean it's bad – on the contrary it's quite good. The opening 10 minutes sets out the stall well – heights, good visuals and real fear. However this doesn't hold and soon we are back in standard thriller mode with Stallone picking off the gang one by one in a Die Hard fashion. This is all still fun if formulaic and the director uses the vertigo inducing locations well.

All the Die Hard trademarks are there – the one liners, the multinational villains, big shoot outs etc. Most of it is really good and while it never gets to the heights of Die Hard in terms of action or tension, it is solid entertainment none the less.

The cast is a strange mix. Stallone is OK as the hero – he can do this tough, wisecracking stuff in his sleep (and seems to occasionally). Lithgow is actually quite good, isn't the way that the bad guys have the best parts! `You want to kill me don't you?' he asks at one point `well, take a number and get in line'. Corny tough guy lines but hammy enough to be good. The rest are weird – Turner (from Northern Exposure) is ok but then we have Craig Fairbrass from Eastenders!

Overall it's not as good as Die Hard and it's open setting prevents real tension or claustrophobia but it's still very enjoyable. Solid enjoyment without too much flash – although it is a downside that the best bit is over in the first 10 minutes.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Stallone's last decent actioner

Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
28 February 2003

CLIFFHANGER (1993) *** Sylvester Stallone, Janine Turner, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Ralph Waite, Leon, Max Perlich. Great action sequences are this film's assets thanks to director Renny Harlin and at its center is Stallone as a mountain climbing guide whose personal demons are best tested when he must rescue a friend form a group of international terrorists in the Colorado Rockies led by sadistic Lithgow (in a wonderfully over-the-top performance). Filmed on location in the Italian Alps and with Stallone doing most of the hair-raising stunts makes for an authentic agorophobic's nightmare. Hang ON!

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