The Mountain Between Us

Having grown up in the midwest, I’ve got plenty of experience with cold weather, but I haven’t had that much exposure to mountainous terrain. Fortunately, I live in Texas now, and I don’t have to deal with either all that often, and I’m completely okay with that.

Alex (Kate Winslet) is getting married tomorrow. Ben (Idris Elba) is a neurosurgeon who has an important life-saving procedure in the morning. But neither of those things is happening in Idaho, which is where they are currently stuck in an airport with a storm blowing in. Not wanting to take “no” for an answer, Alex tracks down a pilot (Walter, played by Beau Bridges) who’s willing to fly them in his private plane to another airport that’s still open where they can catch flights that will get them to their respective destinations on time. Then Walter has a stroke while flying over the Rockies and the plane goes down. Walter doesn’t survive the crash, and Alex is pretty banged up, but Ben comes out mostly unscathed. They stay with the plane for a few days hoping for rescue, but once they realize that help isn’t coming, they set out on a likely hopeless trek through the snow-covered mountains.

It’s basically Forces of Nature (that crappy Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck movie) meets The Grey (that very not-crappy Liam Neeson movie). Quality-wise, it falls somewhere in between. When it’s a wilderness survival/buddy road-trip movie, it’s not too bad. They both seem surprisingly well-equipped for their unexpected trek through the mountains, but I suppose you can attribute that to them having been in Idaho for some period of time and they could be good at over-packing. And it’s pretty convenient that Ben, a British doctor, would be so good at improvising shelters and starting fires and the like, and it seems like a real missed opportunity to have given those skills to Alex, a photojournalist who’s traveled the world and faced a variety of dangers, but at least things keep moving at a decent pace.

However, it’s when things get emotional that the movie starts to take a turn for the worse. It’s understandable that the two would form a bond going through this ordeal together, but it really goes off the rails at the end with an unnecessary (and unnecessarily cheesy) conclusion when there were several earlier points where the movie could’ve wrapped things up without spelling everything out for you and leaving things open for interpretation. And since this is what you’re left with when you walk out of the theater, your lasting impression is of disappointment.