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Film: Vertical Limit
A 2000 film about a group of climbers who become stranded in an avalanche on K2, and the rescue mission launched to find them. Noted for its All-Star Cast
and loads and loads of Scenery Porn
, it won several awards for drama and visual effects.
This film provides examples of:
- Big Brother Instinct: The reason Peter’s so insistent on rescuing Annie, even though multiple other characters insist it’s suicide.
- Canada, Eh?: Monique is French-Canadian. Skip says that when she's in a good mood she's Canadian but when she's not, she's French.
- Cut the Safety Rope: Happens to the main characters’ father in the prologue, causing the friction between him and his sister. All the more heartbreaking as it was the son who cut the rope at his father’s insistence just moments before the sister was able to attach additional securing that might have saved them. Repeated with an Ironic Echo at the end of the film when The Mentor sacrifices both himself and the Smug Snake (unwillingly) to save the others.
- Dwindling Party: Out of 6 rescuers and 3 trapped people, two rescuers and one trapped person survive the movie- four people lost to save one person.
- Everyone Knows Morse: A realistic and justified version. Peter uses Morse code to try and contact the team. Only one other person at the base camp is shown being able to understand it; and on the mountain, Tom knows that it is Morse code but only Annie responds. It's later revealed that Peter and Annie's father made them learn Morse code, so Peter was probably trying to contact her.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Vaughn, whose last trip up K2 was much-publicized due to the death of several members of the climbing party. It’s revealed that he didn’t survive through any skill of his own, but because he stole the dex from Wick’s wife, which ultimately resulted in her death. Wick suspects this, and later gets confirmation.
- Finally Found the Body: The group finds Wick’s wife’s frozen body on their way up the mountain, along with evidence that Vaughn took all her dex doses, causing her death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Several. The film opens with Annie and Peter’s father insisting they Cut the Safety Rope so his weight doesn’t pull them all down. Wick does this too, conveniently getting revenge on Vaughn in a Taking You with Me moment. Vaughn also tries to convince an injured Tom to pull one in order to save the dex for himself, though both Tom and Annie call him out for being a selfish bastard.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: Tom. Unsurprising, since he’s, you know, freezing to death.
- Important Haircut: Done with a beard but Wick shaves off all his long facial hair before going on the climb.
- It's All About Me: Vaughn.
- Karmic Death: Vaughn.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- The Lost Lenore: Wick’s wife, who died during Vaughn’s first expedition up the mountain. It’s later revealed that Vaughn stole the dex from her, essentially murdering her so he could survive.
- The Mentor: Montgomery Wick.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Subverted. There are several climbers on the trip and at first Peter and many others at base camp are overjoyed that Annie, Vaughn and Tom survived the avalanche they quickly realise that everyone else is dead. Highlighted by showing Karim devastated that his cousin isn't among the survivors.
- Money, Dear Boy: In-universe, this is the biggest reason Monique goes with the rescue team.
- Mortal Wound Reveal: Tom gets one of these. We know he’s been injured in the avalanche, but not how badly until Annie lifts his shirt up and shows his ribcage has basically been caved in.
- Nitro Express: The rescue party hauls some nitroglycerine up the mountain, to help locate the climbers stranded by the avalanche.
- The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: The Pakistani military officer admits that despite the Indians being their mortal enemies, they make really good tea.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The crew assembled to go rescue the stranded climbers looks like this from the outside. A half-crazy mountain man, two slacker brothers, a woman in it for the money… Subverted in that they’re all actually experienced climbers who know what they’re doing.
- Sanity Slippage: Wick looks like a case of this from the outside. In reality he’s simply never stopped grieving for his dead wife.
- Scenery Porn: It’s set on K2, and was filmed on several mountains, so this is kind of inevitable.
- Shaming the Mob: Peter does this when trying to put together a team to go rescue the stranded climbers. The Bench brothers are much more blunt about it, basically calling most of the camp a bunch of cowards too busy writing their autobiographies to do any actual climbing.
- The Shill: While it did gather decent reviews and even won some awards for it's visual effects, it's mostly remembered nowadays as among the films recommended by "David Manning", a fake reviewer created by Sony to praise movies that underperformed.
- Shoot the Dog: Vaughn, not wanting to share the dex with Tom (who’s been injured in the avalanche), injects him with air, killing him with a pulmonary embolism.
- Snow Means Death: Kind of the point of the movie.
- Suicide Mission: Peter’s rescue attempt is seen as this, which is why he has such a hard time assembling a large enough team to try it.
- Survivor Guilt: Peter has this.
- Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Two of the climbers get the message that the nitroglycerin they're carrying should be kept out of the sun, but it's been in the sun so long already! Oh, no! It's leaking! Hurry, get it in the shade! Bury it in the snow! Whew. That was close. Let's have a good laugh about that. Then the nitro leaks out into the sunlight. BOOOOOM!
- Taking You with Me: Wick, to Vaughn.
- They Knew the Risks: The excuse given by almost everyone who refuses to go on the rescue mission. Truth in Television to an extent, since anyone willing to go on such a serious climb has to realize they stand a very real chance of dying.
- Those Two Guys: The Bench brothers.
- Token Religious Teammate: Karim who is a Muslim.
- Token Romance
- What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Vaughn tries to pull this on Tom, telling him he’s got no chance so they shouldn’t bother wasting the dex on him. While he might have a point— Tom is severely injured — he’s a pretty cold-hearted bastard about it. Plus, Vaughn only says it because he wants all the dex for himself.
- Wild Hair: Montgomery Wick.