Cliffhanger Review

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Gabe (Stallone) is an expert climber, but hasn't climbed since an accident left a friend dead. However, he is called back to help a group stranded in the mountains – unaware that they are actually armed, dangerous and searching for a fortune in stolen mon


A reminder of the days in which Sly's muscle matched his box office clout (those in any doubt consider for a moment the calamity of his Get Carter re-make). A superb pre-credit sequence – so brilliantly parodied by Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls – plays out into the solid action template: from explosive, tense and at times vertigo-inducing set-pieces, to a script chock full of classic one-line clangers.

Lithgow is clearly modelling his devilishly effete, quasi-intellectual antics as head bad guy on those of Alan Rickman in Die Hard – the sequel which saw Harlin cut his action teeth – but an overall mood of taut suspense and some nice backstory more than mask his theatrical flamboyance. Worth a look also for EastEnders' Craig Fairbrass and for arguably being the inspiration behind Tom Cruise's blockbusting bravado in M:I-2.

Action filmmaking at its best – a career high for director Harlin and arguably Stallone as well.