The Edge (1997)
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The sophistication of Hopkins, playing an extremely smart man, battling the crude Baldwin, who is insanely jealous of Hopkins' possessions, including his gorgeous wife (Elle McPherson), is intriguing to watch. So is the great scenery and best-of-all, a great action story that has you focused intently for the full two hours.
A human characteristic so often ignored in films the past half century is put on display here: compassionate forgiveness. Seeing forgiveness demonstrated instead of revenge is almost shocking to see. Kudos to the filmmakers, too, for not going overboard on the brutality in this adventure.
Best Line: CHARLES: "I have always wanted to do something that was... that was unequivocal"
Most of all, however, I love this type of story- out in the elements, man vs. nature, survival, etc. I like seeing what happens when people are put in a situation where they discover the value of life. By slaying the bear (symbolic of one's greatest fears in life), the Hopkins character found his true heart. I was moved by the transformation he underwent, and the compassion he showed to those who had it in for him. I identified with this; I hoped that I could be as magnanamous. I also thought about what the "bear" was in my life, and if I would have the courage to face it and do battle.
Firstly, a very interesting and off center look into survival in the wilderness. Unconventional in the way that any alternate -in what I would consider "Hollywood"- version of this film would feature mostly everything taking place in that exotic cabin where this menacing digital bear(s) cuts the power and kills people off one by one because they left food out. Instead we are taken deep into the wilderness for real, with no comfort or near-by home base to return to. Decisions made don't feel forced, they feel natural and logical. At no point was I compelled to yell obscenities at the screen protesting character stupidity(leg cut excluded). Much of the Bear chase presented immediate solutions, with no choice to the point where the most illogical choice -to actually make a stand and kill this bear- becomes the ONLY choice, for all other options have expired.
Secondly, upon close inspection of the performances, the acting is spot on. I'd call the performances far from "wooden"! I think they were heart-felt, high-energy, and consistent. Of course, if you aren't paying attention, certainly it would seem as though Alec Baldwin's character, Bob, shifts toward the end as he 'turns' on Anthony Hopkins' character, Charles, with his attempt to kill him. However, it doesn't take much more than an above 8th grade level of comprehension to get that Bob has been cynically plotting to kill Charles far before the film even begins. That scene in the cabin was simply his chance to finally unburden his feelings toward the situation and justify what he was about to do(made final by the "For All The Nights" discovery). Upon watching the film a second time through, it's evident that Bob was able to suppress the impending deed (which in my opinion was something he thought he HAD to do in the end) for the more imminent task of survival, and even taking those feelings and burying them for the time being.
There is also an interesting element of male bonding in the face of adversity-not overcoming the vices and evils that cement Bob to his ultimate deed. Also impressive was the extensive knowledge, yet honest innocence of Charles being something of a recluse from conventional thinking. To the end giving Bob the benefit of the doubt as a man worth preserving; such a sad tale of a very lonely, rich man(never feel sorry for a man that owns a plane); indeed two men who through this experience could have been friends if not for the complexity of their 'other' lives back in civilization. That said, Bob's reasoning was justified to Bob and I could understand his position and motives.
Bobs confrontation of Charles in the clearing tells a very deep rooted stereotype he has for the wealthy class, not really getting that Charles was at the very least an exception to that rule if not a shining example of what was the better human being. In any case Bob felt as though he was entitled to Mickey more-so than Charles, even implying that Mickey and he would be together if not for Charles' wealth. This hatred remained too deep to ignore even after their experience.
And I'm sorry, but to see that fundamental stand-up and confidence chant (what one man can do another can do) despite lingering fear in Bobs face gets me saying "hell yeah" each and every time. One of the party having already suffered death and devouring by this behemoth, the fight was believable as rational thought ended up being the key. Horribly outmatched, they owed a lot to courage and luck. In my opinion the film became sobering upon the death of their friend by the bear, and I always breath a sigh of relief watching that bear laying there dead, the two exhausted men leaning against it, out of breath, as we swallow what we just went through.
Thus, survival at that point was over and resolved in my opinion. These men could survive in the wilderness having passed what I thought to be an ultimate test. I also believe that, after the bear slaying, more time had elapsed than a lot of reviewers give credit for. The fact that they made clothing, food, and other things out of the bear to me marked the passage of a good deal of time.
What I also saw was a very natural and gradual unraveling of their character as the experience wore on them, until the core of things finally prevailed in the end. And it wasn't the deceit or even the cheating. It was in the end about two men, one dying (justly) yet somehow I felt sad to see him go. Because on what turned out to be his death bed, he offered Mickey's innocence in this business of doing Charles in. An act of virtue from a character who had previously only acted in his own interest got to me. Plus Charles' bond to him was enough to put me on his side and root for this attempted murderer to live.
In my opinion the depth, scope, and insight into darker aspects of the human condition go largely unnoticed in this film, for people go in expecting bears, Baldwin, and Hollywood and usually only see what they expect to see. No more, no less. I feel that this film was nicely filled out, packed with little things I loved and fundamental things that moved and entertained me. I hate to see relatively high-brow stuff being overlooked and passed off as low-brow, but I suppose The Edge remains a sleeper.
The story tells of a shy but intelligent billionaire (Hopkins) who is married to a stunning model (MacPherson). Unbeknown to him, his wife is unhappy in their relationship and has been having her wicked way with a photographer (Baldwin). All three of them, plus a whole lot more, find themselves in the wilds of Alaska for a photograph shoot, but things go horribly wrong when a plane carrying Hopkins and Baldwin crashes in the middle of the wilderness. They must use every bit of practical skill and common sense they possess to survive until they can be found, and to make matters even worse they become the prey of a roaming grizzly bear.
Some of the man .vs. bear scenes are the most terrifying scenes of people tackling dangerous animals ever put on film. The increasingly strained relationship between Hopkins and Baldwin, as each reveals more of their secrets to the other, is very well played and creates some genuinely tense moments. The backdrop of Alaskan wilderness is pleasing to the eye throughout the whole film. There's nothing really wrong with The Edge at all: it's a well made, interestingly told and often exciting survival thriller. The only drawbacks it has are minor, such as MacPherson's inexpressive performance and a few boring stock characters in the small roles. Well worth watching.
I've watched this movie numerous times, and from my perspective, everything is perfect. Introduction - Rising Action - Initial Incident - More Rising Action - Unfolding Sub Plots - 2 Separate Climaxes - Falling Action - Resolution. None of that annoying artistic, trying to be different garbage. Very nicely done.
Music score, directing, and acting are all top notch as well...doesn't get much better than Hopkins and Baldwin. And especially Bart The Bear (RIP). I've watched several documentaries of Bart and his owner Doug Seus. Bart knew when the camera's were rolling and when to turn on the juice in acting ferocious. Nothing scarier than a 1500 pound Kodiak bear stalking you through the woods (wanting to eat you).
Highly recommended, one of my all time favorite movies.
The best line in this movie was: Bob (Baldwin) says to Charles (Hopkins) in referring to the huge bear who is stalking them, "What are we going to do, Charles?" Charles calmly replies, "We're going to kill him."
The interplay between the billionaire and the photographer who is playing with his young wife is very interesting. You keep wondering when and if Bob will make a move. The two are trying to find their way out of the wilderness after a plane crash. Hopkins is a rich guy who knows everything and and finally saves the day, even though he was threatened with death. The bear fight was excellent. Bart the bear should have received an award. A high point was at the end when Charles hands Bob's watch to his wife. Watch the movie and you will know why she knew that Charles knew.
David Mamet can write but he knows his place! This is an action adventure movie and so Mamet is not trying to make any great philosophical point. He does provide a wide variety of thematic ingredients (man V nature, youth V age, brains V brawn, machismo, infidelity) to ensure that the story line is far more interesting than most of Hollywood's action-movie schlock. And, of course, a furry killing machine that can smell a man from 10 miles and run through the forest at 30 mph!
Charles, (Anthony Hopkins' erudite billionaire character) starts out as the vulnerable, isolated character of the film. He's married to Mickey, his photo-model wife(Elle can act herself!) flirts quite openly with Bob the handsome, younger photographer (Baldwin). Charles seems set up for a fall. In his self-effacing way, he confesses to knowing a lot "in theory" but not being great at "practical application".
So when the plane crashes into an icy lake, Charles is the one for whom you most fear but that's when all the surprises start..........
The biggest disappointment for me is that a fine actor such as Harold Perrineau finds himself playing a role that is a classical Hollywood cliché, the nice black guy who gets killed. When are they going to cut this crap out? Either kill the guy in the crash or give him a character but don't just make him plot fodder. Seeing Stephen (Perrineau) with the other two on the lake shore, you just knew he would have all the longevity in this film as James Bond's first female conquest. As David Mamet doesn't share the writing credits with a studio committee or an executive producer, I suppose he has to take responsibility.
That said, this is a really gripping film. Well directed photographed and acted (even by Baldwin!). And the bear! How long do you have?
The shots where you (from Charles point of view) are staring down the roaring bear's throat and can see his uvula through an emerging cloud of steamy breath are just brilliant. I could almost smell that bear. I believe they made extensive use of prosthetics. Excellent FX!
Many people probably haven't even heard of this picture, the title is uninspiring but the film isn't.
The direction is superb, the widescreen frame is filled with details and characters use the 2.35:1 scope very well. The film is shot with the cinema screen in mind, not pan and scan. The photography is beautiful, the landscape comes alive, sometimes it steals the picture away from the characters.
The acting is fine, but sometimes a bit more meat was required in the middle of the picture. I don't think the actors had enough depth, but overall not bad.
The picture is about survival and that's all I will say.
The final frames are disappointing, should've been handled better.
The director did a terrific job capturing the Alaska terrain.
As usual, please view this picture in widescreen otherwise people you would have only seen 57% of the picture. There is only one way to enjoy the photography, and that's in widescreen.
Anthony Hopkins character is unfortunately far too good to be true, but the final scene with Baldwin has had me thinking about forgiveness a lot.
Very much a male self help film, and that's no bad thing.
The story isn't an Oscar winning one, but what is refreshing about this particular story compared to others is that it can be related to real life experience. They are in a real wilderness, facing a real bear, not a CGI monster looking to destroy everything in it's path. The story also allows for strong character development throughout, as Charles puts his theoretical knowledge into more practical use. With Bob is a tad different as we slowly see his evil ways as the story progresses, but ultimately leaves being somewhat of a resurrected 'good guy' after his plans to kill Charles backfire. Stephen just seems to be the likable character with a few funny jokes to keep himself in the loop of the movie, but was always ultimately going to die in the movie. It also truly shows the motif of the panther and the rabbit shown in the movie. We are to believe that the symbolism refers to the bear and the three men, but it is more deeply referring to Charles and Bob. We see this in the end where Bob is ready to carry out his plans and end Charles, however Charles in the face of death comfortably smokes his invisible pipe and turns the tables on Bob. A forgiving man he is as he spares Bob's life and helps him in the end. A sad ending where it seems that just when all was forgiven, Bob decides there is no more left for him in the world and dies. Overall the story is great and I find it to be very original and not mainstream. Everything ties together well from the beginning to the middle to the conclusion.
One of the things that make this movie so under-rated is the acting, namely from Hopkins and Baldwin who give a performance that continue to compliment each others characters. The acting portrays everything a good movie should; happiness, sadness, deceit, betrayal, triumph, forgiveness, and motivation. "I'm gonna kill the bear!" That scene alone summarises just how great the acting was from Hopkins and Baldwin throughout the film. Charles is knowledgeable, mentally strong and for the most part soft spoken and reassuring - Hopkins portrays his character to perfection. Bob is arrogant, cocky and conniving, but in the end remorseful and is displayed excellently but Baldwin from beginning to end. Overall a great acting performance that I believe should have been award winning.
The movie as a whole works tremendously well with good chemistry between the characters and fantastic directing and cinematography. For what seems to be a lower budget film, it is definitely up there with the best action/thriller movies past and present.
The film is about billionaire Charles (Anthony Hopkins) who goes on trip to Alaska for a photo shoot with his wife (Elle Mcpherson). After traveling with photographer Bob (Alec Baldwin) to a remote cabin 80 miles North of where they were staying they have their plane crash and are forced to find a way back to where they came from and forced to survive in the wild.
The story is great and easy to follow. A great survival story set in the Alaskan Wilderness. The scenery and images in this film as well as the camera work is outstanding.
Acting is incredible. Hopkins is outstanding as the lead character Charles. Hopkins shows great range as the older and wise man who is able to adapt all of his knowledge in a survival situation. Also Alec Baldwin is good as well in this film as the sort of not as knowledgeable guy who is waiting to backstab. Elle Mcpherson is great also, maybe more so as something to look at than as an actress, but still.
However the best actor in this film is not a human actor in my opinion. Bart the Bear is great in this film as the ravenous bear that is constantly coming after the group lost in the woods. When I first saw this film Bart scared me so much and is truly the most talented animal actor that I have ever seen. May he rest in peace.
Action is great in this film. If you like survival type films, then this film is for you.
Overall a spectacular film. Perhaps the most under rated film I know of. Highly recommend it.
I do in all honesty feel sorry, for the grizzly bear. I don't care how much his real life trainers may say he "loves" them; I just can't see keeping a creature like that as a pet, confined, and domesticated. They are magnificent creatures who should be respected ( aka left alone ). I would feel the same way seeing a human kept, very well, in a Martian zoo. It's just not right.
In the end, Charles (Hopkins) walks up to his wife, who he has learned has been seriously unfaithful to him. He lets her know that he knows. But then, when asked by the reporter about the other man (Baldwin), who we as the audience know was trying to kill Charles, Charles states that (Baldwin) "saved my life". Okay, what does that mean? does it mean that Baldwin pointed out to Charles what a farce his marriage was, and the truth has set him free? Or that, through his experience with Baldwin, and with Bart, that he now feels complete as a human, knowing that he survived in the deep forest, using only his brains and instinct? If anyone knows the answer, as to how Baldwin "saved his life" please let me in. thanks!!
This is a fun wilderness adventure movie with some terrific acting by both Alec Baldwin (as a spoiled bad boy) and Anthony Hopkins (as a very smart millionaire). They battle of wits, and the fighting of the elements, is fodder for screenwriter David Mamet, who has produced more interesting dialog than this, for sure. The third star is the Kodiak bear, who gets a huge credit line at the end, and who unites, at least sometimes, the two men in the cold isolation of Alaska.
But let's face it, as much fun as this is, this is thin going. It even looks a bit like a slightly adult version of a Disney adventure film, with people bonding and conflicting as needed. In fact, if you start comparing this movie to others like it (there are a few), you might even consider the television series "Lost," which is at least more imaginative and full-blooded in its writing. Or just survival in the mountains you might check out "Touching the Void."
I just saw the old Spencer Tracy movie "Mountain" this week, and it is a weird precursor to this one (minus the bear). That is, two people facing the elements have very different ideas of morality and of trust. Like that movie, this newer one doesn't explore the conflict of personae, or ethics, very far, giving only what are the obvious differences. That's not enough for a feature length affair.
Which brings us back to Baldwin and Hopkins. They are, actually, enough to hold you in for the duration. You really do hope they survive, and if you wince at some of the dialog and at the appearance of bear traps at all the wrong moments, you can get into the drama of it pretty well. And into the scenery. Amazing stuff.
The angles of the movie were spectacular; it made you feel like you were out in the woods. Seeing the actors in this environment makes you want to put on a coat to watch the movie. A very strong performance by all the actors in a film that deals with using bare instincts on fighting wild animals, staying alive from the elements, and morality. I can understand why some of the more modern audience might find that to be a turn-off. The sets and locations alone are worth a rental. The photography is beautiful, the landscape comes alive, and sometimes it steals the picture away from the characters.
Very strong performances by Anthony Hopkins, Bart the Bear, and Alec Baldwin, Not only were they great but they were troopers with the set. Anthony Hopkins got a severe case of pneumonia while filming out in the cold; I'm a huge fan so his performance was fantastic he can go from a city guy to survival and make it believable. His character was well portrayed and a flawless performance. Alec Baldwin also did a great job in this movie. (And I can't say that I was a big fan of Alec before this movie) I have only seen him in comedy, but I have a better opinion of him now. Elle McPherson has a small role which she played well and portrayed her character very well.
A gripping storyline, fantastic scenery and a real sense of drama and survival, it delivers as an action/adventure film by giving some heart stopping sequences, and it never slows down. The Edge also delivers as a dramatic film, with an ending that is painfully sad, yet satisfying. They portray their characters with honesty, and with a realistic nature that only great actors can accomplish. As the plot twists and the pace picks up, you start to become so involved that you forget time is passing by. I strongly suggest this one to action lovers and to anyone who enjoys a good story.