Sunday, 28 February 2010

Clifhanger - The comeback king

This was definitely an improvement in the Stallone bankability for me. After giving me some legendary cinema (well video at least) in the early Eighties he had started to turn out some right tosh. Was probably feeling the pressure from Arnie and Willis as a threat to his throne and let's face it, he doesn't deal with that well. Still no excuses for turning out tripe like Oscar and Stop! or my Mom will shoot though. I mean Lock Up and Rocky V were not a sign to give up the genre just re establish yourself. Still, with Cliffhanger he made one of the best movies of its type for the decade and got started to climb back to the top. Hardehar.

Directed by Renny Harlin in his purple patch and carrying some good support in John Lithgow and Michael Rooker, Cliffhanger entertains from start to finish. It's got the easy set up, Sly involved in the death of a mates girlfriend, chucks in job and friends, then comes back, tense atmosphere but luckily a dramatic situation gets them to all pull together. Of course as this is Harlin, by dramatic I mean well OTT. A plane heist, a plane crash and a mountain rescue kick ass adventure. But it's all about the set pieces with Renny and the ones on show here do not disappoint. The plane heist is superb and the red copter still stands out as one of the best copter scenes in the movies. Before this I'm sure we had to do with helicopters disappearing before an inevitable explosion. Hell, we had to wait for The Matrix to better it.

So, if you're ready for Renny's corny dialogue and camp villains on the basis of all the great violence you're gonna get then you're ready for Cliffhanger. Hell, you'll even be ready to accept Eastenders Dan as the nasty English Hardman.


Roby said...

I remember seeing this at the cinema as a kid and being blown away by it.

Great action set pieces, excellent cinematography and a good back story that instantly get's you involved in the characters.

I think you're being a nit harsh on Lock Up though - that's easily one of Sly's top performances plus it has a great score by Bill Conti.

Rob said...

Absolutely spot on review. I remember thinking the same about that helicopter crash at the end (being one of the single best shots of the year...1993).
Gotta love that midair wire transfer too...all madly done for real at Harlin's command.

I think you're being a bit harsh on Oscar though - it's not a John Landis classic but still has enough classic Landis moments not to make a tit of itself.