Greetings and salutations!
I come to you with the first of a new feature "The 3 R's". The three R's in question are Revisit, Review and Riff (or "Rip a new one" depending on the movie). This is a feature where I take movies I have not seen in many years and revisit them to see if they still hold up. Today's movie is 1997's "The Edge" starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
Before I start the movie, I'll give my quick recollections from memory. Three guys (Charles and Bob and Bear Food) stranded in the woods, trying to kill a Grizzly bear while trying not to kill each other. The two leads have a funny sidekick with them who may as well be wearing a red shirt the whole first act. Overall, I remember the movie as being pretty good, and I would have recommended seeing it. We'll see if that holds true.
I'll be giving my thoughts as a running commentary. It goes without saying that I'm about to spoil the hell out of this 15 year old movie. If you want to go in fresh, go watch the film first and then come back. Or, if you've already seen it, fire up Netflix and watch along with me.
Alright, here goes.
-3 minutes in and the acting is wooden and the script is subtle as a sledgehammer. "Charles Morse? Oh my god, the billionaire? Is that who you are?" yeah, because that's how people talk. They lay exposition on so thick they may as well have a big flashing neon "FORESHADOWING" sign above the actors heads when they're talking about bird strike and named the plane "Chekov's Gun" while they were at it.
-I know if I were about to get onto a plane with roughly the same engine power as an old timey vibrator, the first thing I would want to hear about in explicit detail is everything that could possibly go wrong and how one propeller is basically all that keeps it from being a flying tin can.
-1997 Alert! The fanciest watch in the world can tell the time in TWO DIFFERENT PLACES! Looks like we got us a Rockafeller here! As with all great advancements in technology, we now have watches that you can stream porn on. But with subtitles, so it's a classier kind of porn.
-With the amount of obvious foreshadowing in this movie, I'm surprised the soundtrack hasn't been exclusively supplied by Buddy Holly. Too soon?
-Nothing like putting on a Bear suit to "prank" an elderly gentleman on his birthday. I'm convinced that everyone in this movie is trying to kill him. This is all just an elaborate assassination plot.
-Also, leaving a ham out on the counter after the grizzled mountain guy told you not to? You want bears? Because that's how you get bears!
-I remember thinking how cool Anthony Hopkins character was because he "knew everything". As a collector of useless knowledge, this gives me hope that one day I can have a cold, unrequited marriage with Elle MacPherson while she quite obviously eye humps my friend. Aim high kids.
-Man, Alec Baldwin is sleepwalking through this movie. For a guy who probably did a half brick of coke before they called "action" I would think he'd be a little more spry.
-Charles gives Bob a murderous look that gives me a momentary hope that he'll feed him his own brain.
-The funny black sidekick trope is literally wearing a red shirt! This is tropes within tropes here. Tropeception!
-Mickey (Elle MacPherson) is dressed up like if Pocahontas got her hair caught in a wood chipper. And if Pocahontas was also an Aussie white woman (or an actress trying to play an American, but failing to hide her accent...can't figure out which) dressing in a dollar store "sexy native" Halloween costume. Nice to know this fashion shoot blew all of it's budget on the location.
-This old grizzled mountaineer could use a little more Quint from Jaws for my taste. I would kill for an Indianapolis monologue right now. Instead he starts pitching Charles on investing in a resort, completely killing all of the mystique he had built up. Thanks Not Quint!
-Charles comes right out and asks how Bob is going to try to kill him. (He already tried with the bear suit) Before Bob can answer, Chekov's Birdstrike goes off and the pilot gets a face full of Foie Gras.
-At the beginning, Charles said if they get hit by a bird they'll all be dead. Yet three out of four survived. I would think that would majorly call into question his whole "I know all there is to know about knowing things" deal.
-That poor pilot. Nobody ever remembers the pilot's name when a famous person dies in an aircraft accident. "Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and the pilot were all killed on impact." "Stevie Ray Vaughan's chopper crashed into a mountain side. He and the pilot were both killed on impact."
-I'll give Sir Anthony credit. Even with a script which I am now realizing could have used another once over (or a David Mamet over), he still sells it. It's like Shakespeare in the Woods.
-Did Bob just suggest he wanted to get into a hot tub with Charles and Mickey and "work out" their differences? Kinky...
-Anthony Hopkins: Bear Whisperer. Soother of Godless Killing Machines. Then runner awayer after that fails.
-"I like my coffee like I like my women." "Bitter and murky." Funny line from Steve, but not as funny as Alec thinks it is. I think the cocaine just kicked in.
-"I like my coffee like I like my women...in a plastic cup, with a spoon in them!" -Eddie Izzard with a much better joke. I'm gonna pretend Steve said that instead.
-An Englishman telling Steve (a black man) to make a spear just made everything awkward for everyone. At least Steve calls him out on this. Steve then proceeds to gash himself open with the pocket knife to prove Charles was wrong in his casual racism. They all learn something about stereotypes. Nah, just kidding! Steve becomes a walking Bear lure.
-Poor Steve. He gets chomped on by Yogi while sitting next to the camp fire. I think the bear just waited for him to get that nice smokey flavour first. RIP Steve. We hardly knew you. Seriously, we hardly knew you.
-I make jokes, but Steve getting killed by the bear was genuinely unsettling.
-While running after the helicopter, Alec Baldwin takes a pratfall out of frame that seems entirely too comical for this movie. All of the dire stakes raising of the campfire scene are immediately wiped away as he yells at Charles about how rich people suck. If I recall correctly, this rich person has been on the ball the whole time (not on the 8-Ball like Bob).
-Bob yells at Charles "You make me sick! What puts you off? Jews and taxes!" No Bob, that's Mel Gibson you're thinking of.
-Alec is slobbering so much I'm afraid he's gonna have to be put down. His acting is very inconsistent in this movie. How was that for a put down?
-Sorry Bear, if you let a 70 year old man outrun you, you suck at being a Bear. Now turn in your badge and your claws and get out of my office!
-"I'm gonna kill the motherf***er!" (psychotic smile) Sir Anthony has officially transformed into Hobo Hannibal Lecter.
-I heard once you were supposed to punch a Bear in the nose to make it go away. I wonder who figured that out? Or was it poke a Bear in the eye and punch a Shark in the nose? I always get those two mixed up. I say just to be safe one should run through the entire Three Stooges repertoire. If eye pokes and nose punches don't work, move on to the noogie, the nose crank and the slap. Then die horribly.
-With his new five day growth "Gentleman Hobo" look, the image of Charles battling the Bear is less "man vs nature" and more "two drifters fighting over a can of beans".
-That Bear meat looked really tasty. I have half a mind to get my bear punching/poking gloves and go grocery shopping. Luckily, the other half of my mind thinks that's f***ing stupid and has a louder voice.
-"I wish we had some salt." "You know you can season meat with gunpowder." "I wish we had some gunpowder." Ok I'm starting to agree with Bob. The know-it-all shtick is getting old Charles.
-So after Charles channels MacGyver and Home Alone to kill the bear, the boys stumble upon a deserted hunting shack. The reveal of the canoe is accompanied by music I can only describe as unnecessarily sinister (hereby dubbing it "the spooky canoe"). With the discovery of the spooky canoe and a rough idea of which direction he is going to point it, Bob figures doesn't need Charles any more. Right, because his survival instincts have been so sharp up until now. Meanwhile, Charles found proof of Bob and Mickey's affair and it comes to a head in a legitimately effective scene with Bob loading a gun and walking Charles outside to shoot him while Charles tries to talk him out of it.
-Psyche! Bob falls in a deadfall bear trap and breaks his leg. Charles doesn't kill him because hauling a man with a broken leg around after he declared his intentions to murder you isn't totally stupid. I guess Charles is a better man than I am (to the surprise of no one, he is Charles the All Knowing after all).
-Charles straps Bob to the spooky canoe and the two have an over the top bonding moment next to the campfire where Bob apologizes for being a total douche and tells Charles that Mickey wasn't in on the plan to off him. Bob dies just before the helicopter touches down because his plot relevance is finished and timing is the essence of comedy. Charles makes it back to the cabin. He gives Mickey Bob's watch that would have allowed him to know which two time zones he died in if it hadn't broken, and they share a hug colder a Winnipeg February.
-I get the feeling that Charles murders his wife after the movie ends. The look in his eyes is not the look of a man who forgives her affair, rather the look of a broken husk of a human being who is merely waiting until the cameras are out of sight before he completely snaps. It is the look of a PTSD case who is a ticking time bomb.
I definitely remembered this movie as being better than it was. All joking aside, there is enough of interest here to recommend it. There are a couple of good lines, some effective scenes (the scene in the cabin with Bob and Charles finally confronting the affair is nicely done) and Anthony Hopkins does his best to elevate the material, but Alec Baldwin's near night and day performance style of nearly being asleep one moment and going over the top the next does make it hard to take the movie seriously. The movie has a tendency to undercut it's seriousness in really ridiculous ways. The dialog is pretty rough and could have used another draft. The movie also falls into the pit (ahem) of making the protagonist unrealistically knowledgeable and capable at everything he tries to do. That is, if the hero is not actually the villain.
It struck me in the final scene. After all of the menacing glares, psychotic smiles and Charles murder gaze at the end, I began to question if Charles was really as good of a person as he is presented. He has all of the hallmarks of an antagonist. He's rich and powerful (through means never actually explained, "billionaire" is not actually a job title), he's paranoid, he's cunning, and he's very knowledgeable about Rube Goldberg murder traps...maybe there was a reason Bob wanted to kill him and Mickey didn't love him any more? Now that I think of it, it may be worth another viewing to see if there's something to that angle?