“A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.”

Director: Renny Harlin
Writers: Michael France, John Long, Sylvester Stallone
Staring: Sylvester Stallone, Michael Rooker, John Lithgow
Release Date: May 28, 1993

Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is a guide, ranger and professional climber who specializes in rescuing over-dangerous climbers. At the start of the movie he is climbing with his pal Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) and Hal’s lady friend. A traumatic experience among the cliffs pushes Gabe to the sidelines, until naturally is pulled back in.

Jessie Deighan (Janine Turner) is Gabe’s romantic interest, but his sabbatical has put a strain on their relationship. Their lover’s quarrel is put on hold when Hal and Gabe need to go and save some climbers in the midst of a nasty blizzard. The only thing is that…these are no stranded climbers.

John Lithgow plays Eric Qualen, the leader of a group of criminal masterminds. He and his crew where in a plain pulling off an airplane heist but it all went to shit and their ride crashed in the mountains and the bushels of money are now sprayed over the mountain. Qualen and Walker battle wits and bicker over snow winds and radio static, and only one man can survive.

There are oh-so-many action movie tropes in Cliffhanger. Sylvester Stallone does his grimace of struggle face very, very often. He did a version of the Chris Evans Captain America helicopter grab arm flex before any Marvel fan would recognize. Jessie fits the 80s and 90s action movie trope of a women who is a bad-ass in her own right but still needs a man by her side to get things done…and she needs to be saved at the end. There are macho showdowns, bad guys who can’t shoot, a mentoring figure dying and a giant ass explosion to close it out. Cliffhanger is predictable in its benchmarks in the best way…much like how all comic book movies are now all predictable. Yes, that is shots fired.

John Lithgow really does go all out as the villain. He has the glares down pat and he is not afraid to kill those are not helpful anymore. He has the good bad guy blend of making minions do his work and also doing a bit of dirty work himself.He is going to be most memorable character from Cliffhanger for me.

But there is one scene that will stay in my brain forever.

There is one absolutely absurd kill in Cliffhanger that ranks among one of the coolest but most impractical kills in any action movie I have seen. Walker is getting his ass kicked by this evil henchman by the name of Kynette. The Italian Stallone is getting bucked too and fro, that is until the grand finale. Walker lifts himself up and bench presses Kynette above him. He then pushes the villain up into a stalactite and the rock protrude through his abdomen and out the other side. It is one of the most absurd things and physically impossible.

Cliffhanger is a comfort movie for me. It will not take home any awards…BUT WAIT. Cliffhanger was nominated for three Oscars in 1994: Best Sound, Best Sound Effects and Best Visual Effects. Never would have guessed that before pulling up the IMDB. With that being said, I was impressed with some of the arial shots and location shooting that as done.

If you like action, some cheeky dialogue, an over-the-top bad guy and some nice set piece spectacles, then tune into Cliffhanger. I may not give it the highest grade, but I can give it the highest recommendation for anyone who has similar taste like me.

STANKO RATING: C (2.5/5 Stars)


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