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Film / The Edge

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A 1997 film directed by Lee Tamahori and written by David Mamet, who filled it with his usual scathing observations on male relationships (less Mamet Speak than may be expected, though).

Charles (Anthony Hopkins) and Bob (Alec Baldwin) are flying in a prop-plane over a remote part of Alaska. Charles is a filthy rich Banker. Bob is a photographer and close friend of Charles's supermodel wife.

After their plane crashes, a mind game erupts as they try to survive the wilderness.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Charles is well-read on surviving in the wild but has no practical experience of anything other than a comfortable life, but still proves to be the most competent of the three protagonists and is the last man (or bear) standing by the end.
  • Asshole Victim: Bob meets a drawn-out and painful end, probably well-deserved for attempting to murder Charles, especially after everything that Charles did for him.
  • Badass Bookworm: Charles is incredibly well read, and has accumulated a great deal of knowledge about other cultures and survival techniques over the years. He later proves equally adept at spearing the enormous killer bear.
  • Bears Are Bad News: And how! The bear in this film almost reaches levels of Cartoonish Supervillainy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Subtly done with Mickey and Bob. The first appears to be a devoted and admiring wife to Charles (and bizarrely enough, might be), but it turns out that she's been having an affair with Bob, who seems to be a typical Nice Guy who genuinely respects and admires Charles, but has been sleeping with his wife and is planning to kill him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charles survives and the implication is that he has grown as a person thanks to his ordeal, but both his associates are dead, and his marriage to Mickey is almost certainly over now that he knows for sure that she was cheating with one of them, which very nearly cost him his life. To put even more of a downer on it from Mickey's point of view, she has probably now lost both the men in her life, the only glimmer of hope that Charles may take her back being Bob's dying admission that she had nothing to do with the plan to murder Charles.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Sort of - he is the first to go out of the survivors of the plane crash, but he did outlast the pilot, who died on impact with the water. Lampshaded when Stephen comments "Brothers don't last long in situations like this!"
  • Bookends: Charles arriving at the lodge by air.
  • Break the Haughty: Robert.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Bob teasingly says he only saved Charles (who suspects Bob of having an affair with his wife) from the river due to needing him to navigate. He isn't joking.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Charles is a well-known multi-millionaire and the only one of the three survivors with some clue of how to last long enough for rescue after the plane crashes.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The deadfall bear trap. At the end of the film Bob accidentally falls into it when he's about to kill Charles, causing him to suffer a wound that ends up being fatal.
    • Bob's watch: The inscription on it confirms that he and Mickey were having an affair.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Just before dying, having previously suffered of a mortal wound, Bob apologizes to Charles for having betrayed him.
  • The Cynic: Charles makes it clear that he doesn't trust most of the people in his life, who feign friendship and goodwill because they think they will benefit from his wealth and power. His cynicism is fully justified, when his wife's affair with Bob is revealed and Bob tries to murder Charles to have Mickey all to himself.
  • Distracted from Death: Bob dies unnoticed while Charles is trying to signal the rescue plane.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Stephen badly lacerates his leg while attempting to carve a fishing spear, leaving him crippled for the rest of the film. Sometime later, while he's moaning in discomfort and Charles and Bob are arguing over how to dispose of his bloody dressings after changing them, the bear appears out of nowhere and viciously mauls Stephen to death.
  • Enemy Mine: Bob and Charles are not very known to like each other ( since Bob has been having a secret affair with Charles's wife and Charles rightly suspects that Bob plans to murder him), but they team up to kill the bear.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: After being rescued and arriving back at the lodge, Charles hugs Mickey and puts Bob's watch, a gift to Bob from her, in her hand.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Bob is about to shoot Charles, he forgets about one of the bear traps and accidentally falls into it.
  • False Friend: Bob pretends to be friendly with Charles, but he's been sleeping with Charles's wife and waiting for an opportunity to kill him.
  • First World Problems: Bob makes cracks about how sad it is that Charles's wealth makes it hard for him to tell when people are sincere with him. While Charles does have trouble connecting with people. this seems to be more because of his personal quirks, and he tells Bob never to feel sorry for someone who owns his own plane.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • From Bob's bear prank to a mention of birdstrikes early on, and then some.
    • A significant one is Bob leaving behind a trapped Stephen to drown after the crash and Charles staying behind to save Stephen. When the bear attacks them later, targeting an already injured Stephen, Charles attempts to drive it off and when it turns on him, Bob drags a protesting Charles away and hightails into the woods with him, leaving Stephen to his fate.
    • Charles states that men who get lost in the wilderness "die of shame." A badly wounded Bob later dies just as they are about to be rescued and the film subtly implies that he's so ashamed of having to be saved by the man whose wife he is having an affair with and whom he has just tried to kill, that he simply gives up the will to live.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Styles unsuccessfully tries to persuade his billionaire guest to develop his Alaskan wilderness property into a big resort.
  • Going in Circles: Happens without much explanation. It is a Real Life phenomenon when walking in unfamiliar territory, but since they were keeping the same obvious mountain peak ahead of them the whole time, it seems unlikely. In addition, the pass over a very prominent ridge and so to accidentally get back to their starting place, they must have gone back down the same side they went up.
  • Gold Digger: Possibly Charles' wife; Bob seems to think that the only reason she's with Charles is because he's filthy rich. Whether that's true or not is never definitively answered.
  • Good is Not Nice: Charles is introduced as a cold, rather cynical, and humorless man. However, from the moment the plane crash-lands into the lake, he's shown to be a better man than Bob. While Bob only thinks to save himself, Charles takes the additional time to free Stephen from his seatbelt and save his life. And later Charles does what he can to save Bob's life, even after Bob tries to murder him.
  • Hidden Depths: Charles has several.
    • Despite having little practical experience outside of his jet-set life, he proves incredibly resourceful at surviving in the wilderness.
    • Although he initially comes across as a very cold and unfriendly man, it's Charles rather than Bob who willingly spends the additional time in the sunken plane to save Stephen. Later, when the Bear attacks their camp, targeting an already injured Stephen, Charles bravely tries to drive off the Bear while Bob drags Charles away and runs leaving Stephen to die an awful and vicious death.
  • Hope Spot: Charles and the others initially think they can make it to a peak in time to launch a flare which search party will see, leading to a fast rescue. The flares fall in the river when the bear forces them to cross a narrow log bridge and then shakes it. Additionally, it later turns out they were going in the wrong direction to find a search party.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: "Don't die on me, Bob."
  • Inertial Impalement: This is how the bear dies, its own weight causing it to be impaled by a spear that Charles is holding.
  • Jerkass: Bob isn't shy about letting Charles know how much he resents him for his wealth and his beautiful wife and all but taunts him about the fact that he wants her for himself—and as we later learn, has been having an affair with her. There's also that business about planning to kill him, which becomes a Moral Event Horizon later in the film after Charles has saved his life from the bear and he still presses on with his plan.
  • Large Ham:
    • It's Anthony Hopkins, so he of course manages to deliver a few side orders of pork to go along with an otherwise commendably restrained performance. "He's a MANKILLER!"
    • Watch the "I'm gonna kill the bear" scene and behold Ham-to-Ham Combat.
      "What one man can do, another can do!"
  • May–December Romance: Charles is old enough to be Mickey's father.
  • Mean Boss: Bob is rather snappy to his assistant Stephen over a setback that isn't his fault before the plane crash. He also abandons Stephen to save his own ass when the latter is trapped and in danger of drowning in the rapidly sinking plane. Plus of course leaving him to die a horrible death at the hands of the Bear and then dragging Charles away from trying to save him.
  • Nature Hero: Played with. The billionaire character is shown to be restless in his privileged life and seems to almost enjoy being lost in the wilderness away from the stresses of his normal life and with a chance to prove he can be a survivor. He copes better than his two less well-off companions, though isn't always successful - notably when he fashions a compass but then fouls up using it by holding it too close to his metal belt buckle.
  • Perma-Stubble: Both Charles and Bob have this look for the whole movie. It generally grows over time, but there are a few inconsistencies where the beard length decreases over time, or makes a large jump over what's just supposed to be an hour or two.
  • Photographic Memory: Charles has perfect recall of everything he's ever read. Fortunately for him and the men who are stranded in the tundra with him, he has read a lot of books about the outdoors.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Anthony Hopkins of all people.
    "Today, I'm-a going to kill the motherfucker."
  • Rugged Scar: Mr. Styles, the lodge owner, has a long scar on his face and is an avid hunter.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Stephen's purpose is to demonstrate the threat that the bear possesses.
  • Say My Name: The name "Charles" is uttered more than a hundred times.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some fantastic shots of mountain ranges, lakes, forests, and glaciers.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Jurassic Park III's Spinosaurus learned everything he knows from the Kodiak bear in this film, which obsessively stalks Bob and Charles, brutally ripping Stephen to shreds and is determined to do the same to them, despite the fact that there must surely be other game around for him to feast on and even if there isn't, bears are omnivores so there would be plenty of plants to keep him fed. Apparently the men getting stranded and consequently wandering into his territory really pissed him off.
  • Tempting Fate: Purely coincidental actually, but the airplane being severely compromised by a birdstrike, which eventually led to it crashing, came right after Charles asks Bob how he plans to kill him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "I thought I told you to bury those bloody rags instead of hanging them over a tree branch opposite the camp!" "What's the problem, it's not like there's a murderous 1800 pound bear stalking us...oh wait."
  • Treachery Cover Up: "They died saving my life."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Charles isn't exactly ugly, but the general attitude from outside observers (and feared by Charles himself) is that his lovely wife is WAY out of his league and probably wouldn't have given him a second look had he not been wealthy.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After a pretty extensive period of Enemy Mine companionship because of the murderous bear on their asses, Bob decides the very moment that they arrive at a trapper's cabin and finds a gun to try to kill Charles and hope that nobody ever finds the body, even finally confessing that he's Charles' wife's lover and he's had the idea in his head all along, which was kept ambiguous before the plane crashed.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Bob's last words are to assure Charles that Mickey wasn't in on the plot to kill him.