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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Vertical Limit (2000)

This movie has everything. Inaccurate depictions (I guess? Who's to say? Not me.) of rock climbing! Billionaires being billionaires! Chris O'Donnell showing he can still do his Batman nonsense! A blood bag flare mechanism that works shockingly well! A government largely unconcerned with the storage of a shit ton of nitro! A cavalcade of C-list actors you've really enjoyed in other movies but cannot remember their names! (Jango Fett! The girl from GoldenEye! The villain from The Mask of Zorro!) It omits Robin Tunney running (I should really buy The Craft...) but the most important thing this movie has is Bill Paxton as a villain.



Seriously. Bill Paxton was a gifted character actor who did a lot of bonkers work over the years, but I mourn his untimely passing most because of the villain roles he didn't get to play. He's moustache-twirlingly evil in this, in both a very realistic way (eat the rich!) and totally out of place in a Y2K "damn mother nature, you scary!" popcorn flick. I love it. I'm devastated I couldn't find a gif of him doing a Shakespearean monologue with just his eyebrows as he watches Robin Tunney give herself a shot of life saving "dex". (Is it dexadrine? Dexadrone? Dexaprone? Who knows! I don't care enough to google it! This movie assumes you know a lot more about rock climbing and bourgeois mountain climbing culture than I would guess most people who paid to see it know.)


If it isn't abundantly clear by now, there are few ultra-rich "hobbies" I loathe more than "exotic" mountain climbing. The toll it takes on the environment. The abuse of native poor. The entitlement. The needless deaths. The way it warps the local economies. I could go on. And I think that's part of why I relish this beautifully idiotic movie. It feels like it's thumbing its nose at that whole culture while still telling a tale of daring-do about it. That party scene though! The idea of climbing K2 on a deadline for a marketing thing that... 5 people will see?


Ben's reading of IMDB trivia during this viewing informed me that this was intended to be a sequel to Cliffhanger, another dumdum movie I adore. And that makes all the sense. I should rewatch Cliffhanger. And add it to the list.


I really don't have much else to say about this one. I love it, I get why it's not a beloved classic, I have no idea what I'm going to make for it.


RIP Tommy McClaren. You were a real one.


"Petey's Wanderings"

Marker & ink on paper.






Takeaways:

-Well this was a hoot. It came together easily and quickly and I had a good time doing it. Livin' the dream.

-When I was wracking my brain trying to think of art to do for this one, I started to plot the action in set pieces and then geographically. As I thought of Chris O'Donnell wandering various points around K2, it called to mind Family Circus and... voila! It also obliquely ties into one of my favorite old gags on the internet, Nietzsche Family Circus, a random image generator that pairs a panel from Family Circus with a Nietzsche quote. Bread and butter for odd duck, intellectually smug 20-something Shannons.

-Ben commented that there wasn't enough death on the map. I responded, "not that many people die in Vertical Limit." He raised an eyebrow and I counted on my fingers. I ran out of fingers. A lot of people die, many of whom do in the course of the rescue mission that only succeeds with Robin Tunney, kind of negating what I see as the takeaway from the opening scene, but maybe the takeaway was that Robin Tunney should survive at any cost? Given the number of her movies I adore, I'm inclined to agree.

-This is a rare one that I'm really tickled by but I'm scared to post because it's Very Me in its humor. And any perceived rejection of that will hurt (thanks, Instagram Insights, for quantifying my rejection). But that's the nature of these things. And damn, human nature, you scary.

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