50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
, June 26, 2003
This review is from: The Edge (DVD)
The score, photography, direction, screenplay and the marvelous interaction between Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins all deserve high praise. It says much for the power of Baldwin and Hopkin's performances that the magnificent bear, Big Bart, did not steal every scene in which he appeared.
Billionaire intellectual, mildly paranoid Hopkins accompanies his trophy wife played by super model Elle MacPherson to a photo shoot in the Alaskan wilderness. The always faintly menacing Alec Baldwin is a trendy, sophisticated fashion photographer who has more than a passing interest in Ms. MacPherson. Hopkins reluctantly agrees to accompany Baldwin on a search for an elusive native trapper who Baldwin thinks will be an ideal photo subject. The plane goes down (in a jarringly effective scene). Three survive, but on their first night the weakest of their party is horrifyingly mauled and taken away by a giant Kodiak bear. Baldwin and Hopkins must make their way out of the wilderness with the terrifying knowledge that the bear is stalking them. Hopkins is a wonderfully effective survivor and Baldwin shows a toughness and perseverance that belies his sophisticated image. Will the bear triumph? Will they get out alive? Are Baldwin and Hopkins ultimately partners or deadly adversaries?
Thanks to David Mamet, the screenplay has depth and is probably full of deeper meanings that whizzed right by me. Lee Tamahori's fine direction lifted the film from a merely grand adventure saga to an absorbing study of two men and their inner beings. The script or the interactions never bored me. There is one fine scene setup that alone was worth the price of admission to me. Hopkins and Baldwin are peering over a fallen log desperately trying to ascertain the location of the bear. Only their upper faces are showing. Hopkins china blue eyes display enormous depth and intelligence while Baldwin's icy blues convey complete kill or be killed intensity. I think reviewers have been unjust to Ms. MacPherson's contribution. I believe she delivered just what she was supposed to: a beauty who was graceful, charming and perhaps a little shallow.
This film is about as perfect as it can be. The only flaw is a very disappointing DVD with no extras. Hopefully, another edition will come out. Anthony Hopkins is always marvelously articulate about his roles; it would be a treat to hear a few words from him. Outtakes on Big Bart's scenes would be priceless. I advise waiting for new edition before purchasing the DVD, but by all means, rent this one! In spite of its totally unimaginative title, it is one of the great films of the decade.
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