The Edge

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What on earth is David Mamet playing at? After American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross and the rest of those hardcore city dramas, he decides to go up country and write a script that sinks to the bottom of the deepest lake. The man is a master of stress-related urban angst. His dialogue bleeds from the mouth. He doesn't need an adventure yarn that lacks credible survival skills.

The story has a been-there-botched-that staleness about it. A group of townies in the Arctic behave like gawky tourists until some of them crash a plane miles from anywhere. In life, they wouldn't have lasted a night. They don't have proper clothes, they're soaking wet and it's freezing. Being in a movie helps. They can do what they want. Up to a point. They collect damp wood and light a fire with a single match. They wave blazing poles at a trained bear, as if rehearsing a circus act. Everything rings false. Nature is a cruel companion and ignorance no friend. These guys are worse than ignorant. They think they're smart.

Basically, it's a two-hander, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin versus the great outdoors. Hopkins plays a billionaire and Baldwin a fashion photographer. Hopkins' wife (Elle Macpherson) is a model, who might be cheating on him. No prizes for guessing with whom. The cuckold, the lover and the wife are supposed to add tension to this survivor's tale. The opposite is true. It's laughable.

After the plane crash, Hopkins turns out to be a good boy scout and Baldwin a bit of a whinger. There is contrast in acting styles, also. Hopkins works every scene hard. He's forever busy, creating character from cardboard, giving full attention to detail. Watching him when not centre screen reveals his mastery. He's always thinking. Baldwin strikes poses and assumes that confrontation is sexy, saddled with a ladies' man rep that's past its sell-by date. His greasy haired street cred isn't worth a cup of cocoa in this dripping forest.

The locations are stunning if you like mountains that touch the sky and wide green lakes reflecting silver-blue glaciers. Kiwi director, Lee Tamahori, can find no inspiration. A tree is a tree is a tree. A bad script is a bad script is...

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Survivors of a plane crash face a fight with nature... and each other.
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Director: Lee Tamahori

Writer: David Mamet

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson

Year: 1997

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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