The Edge (1997)
Directed by: Lee Tamahori
Premise: A wealthy bookworm (Anthony Hopkins) gets stranded in the Alaskan wilderness with a fashion photographer (Alec Baldwin). As the two men try to find their way home they are stalked by a man-eating bear (Bart the Bear) and begin to suspect that they cannot trust each other.
What Works: This a survival story that is very well done. As a wilderness narrative, the story is respectful to its genre and uses familiar elements such as forcing the characters to be resourceful and use their cleverness to survive. The resourcefulness is credible in the film and avoids a MacGyver-like ridiculousness that is the bane of so many of these films. The Edge is an adventure story with some very exciting set pieces, especially the final showdown between the men and the bear, but more than that the film creates real characters and complex relationships that change through the challenges that the characters face.
What Doesn’t: The interpersonal story between Hopkins and Baldwin’s characters loses a little steam towards the end. The story takes a thematically optimistic route with Hopkins’ character. It is nice to see, but some may view it as naïve.
DVD extras: Trailer.
Bottom Line: The Edge is survival story that pits man not only against mother nature, but also against human nature. The way the film unifies its content and the way it carefully escalates the conflict makes it as intellectually and emotionally satisfying as it is viscerally exciting.
Episode: #111 (October 8, 2006)