Two new films featured tense races against death—stranded mountain climbers in Vertical Limit and an uncooperative hostage in Proof of Life—yet the scripts' weak ruminations on life and death left most Christian critics disappointed.
Vertical Limit is a Cliffhanger clone (right down to the opening climbing accident), but this time around the most dangerous force is the weather and terrain, rather than terrorists. Planet Wisdom enjoyed that aspect of the film: "I like the basic message that you have to respect nature-even if you're going to take it on through mountain climbing or some other extreme sport. Part of the appeal of the mountains or the ocean is that they're so much bigger than we are. They remind us that we're not in control. Ultimately, we need God." In the film, a retired mountain climber (Chris O'Donnell) tries to rescue his sister and her climbing party after they are stranded on the face of the world's second-tallest mountain. Preview finds the film's special effects and cinematography quite accomplished, saying "the expansive mountain vistas and the quick-paced intensity of Vertical Limit will appeal to people looking for exciting, vicarious thrills." However, the acting and screenwriting left much to be desired.
Phil Boatwright, the Movie Reporter, says "These actors are forced to utter hackneyed, contrite and embarrassing dialogue, throughout. ... I'm always amazed at the effort given to make the adventurous events look lifelike in these special effects extravaganzas, yet so little effort is given to character development or credibility. This film is suspenseful, often bringing on sweaty palms, but it also becomes supercilious, much like a Roadrunner cartoon." Christian reviewers were also disappointed ...1
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