Vertical Limit

December 8th, 2000


Vertical Limit

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Vaughn, Wick, Monique, Peter and AnnieBill Paxton stars as Elliott Vaughn, a wealthy entrepreneur whose ill-fated climb up K2 prompts a rescue mission.Isabella Scorupco stars as MoniqueVertical LimitAnnie & McLarenVertical Limit

A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world's biggest mountains.

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 5.6/10 (30,596 voted)

Critic's Score: 48/100

Director: Martin Campbell

Stars: Scott Glenn, Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton

A high-adrenaline tale of young climber Peter Garrett, who must launch a treacherous and extraordinary rescue effort up K2, the world's second highest peak. Confronting both his own limitations and the awesome power of nature's uncontrollable elements, Peter risks his life to save his sister, Annie, and her summit team in a race against time. The team is trapped in an icy grave at 26,000 feet - a death zone above the vertical limit of endurance where the human body cannot survive for long. Every second counts as Peter enlists the help of a crew of fellow climbers, including eccentric, reclusive mountain man Montgomery Wick, to ascend the chilling might of the world's most feared peak to save her.

Writers: Robert King, Robert King

Chris O'Donnell - Peter Garrett
Robin Tunney - Annie Garrett
Stuart Wilson - Royce Garrett
Augie Davis - Aziz
Temuera Morrison - Major Rasul
Roshan Seth - Colonel Amir Salim
Alejandro Valdes-Rochin - Sergeant Asim
Nicholas Lea - Tom McLaren
Rod Brown - Ali Hasan
Scott Glenn - Montgomery Wick
Steve Le Marquand - Cyril Bench
Ben Mendelsohn - Malcolm Bench
Izabella Scorupco - Monique Aubertine
Bill Paxton - Elliot Vaughn
Ed Viesturs - Himself

Taglines: This December. Fear will Fall. Courage will Rise.


Official Website: Sony Pictures [United States] |

Release Date: 8 December 2000

Filming Locations: K2, Karakoram Mountain Range, Pakistan

Box Office Details

Budget: $75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $15,507,845 (USA) (10 December 2000) (2307 Screens)

Gross: $215,663,859 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The first time director Martin Campbell has ever filmed anything in his home country of New Zealand.

Continuity: In the helicopter, when Peter is going to the base camp, the headset the pilot is wearing keeps shifting position. In one shot, it is behind his right ear, the next shot it covers his ear, and the third shot it is back behind his ear again.

Major Rasul: You should try the tea, indian of course. We maybe at war with them but theres no sense in over-reacting, their tea's the best.

User Review

There's no limit to mountaineering melodramatics


While mountaineering is one of the most exhilarating of sports it has produced little good fiction, and few good fictional movies, though there have been some excellent documentaries ('The Man who Skied Down Everest', the Imax 'Everest' film, for example). Somehow, when it comes to fiction, the clichés take over, and this film, with some genuinely gorgeous camera-work and impressive stunts, is full of them. The wealthy megalomaniac determined to conquer K2 at any cost, the climber who lost his nerve when his father was killed who pushes himself into action to save his sister, stuck in a crevass high up the mountain with the moneyed one, the bitter old man of the mountains who is essential to the rescue, the guide who has sold out, It's all there. One does expect some improbability of plot in a film like this, but the thought that someone might cart Pakistani Army liquid nitro-glycerine in back packs to the top of K2 to blast a crevasse open really was a bit much.

Apart from a very attractive opening sequence in Utah (Monument Valley, I think) the film was shot in the New Zealand Alps, with a few clips of the genuine Karkoram Himalaya spliced in. For this viewer, it brought back pleasant memories of climbing in the University holidays around the Southern Alps. But climbing is a dangerous sport; on one trip I was accompanied by four people, all of whom subsequently died in separate climbing accidents (one on Makalu, next to Everest). There is a fair amount of special effects malarky (no-one, not even Temuera Morrison pretending to be Pakistani, would fly an old military helicopter so close to a mountain wall at 21,000 feet), but there are also some genuinely stirring shots.

Unfortunately, the acting for the most part matches the script. Chris Connelly, good at sensitive young men, is wrong for the brother bent on rescue (it's more of a part for Bruce Willis), and Bill Paxton is only moderately menacing as the ruthless Richard Branson-style billionaire. In fact the only decent piece of acting is Scott Glenn's Wick, the veteran with attitude. The'comic' Australian climbing brothers, Ces and Cyril, or whatever their names were, were profoundly embarrassing – I guess Ben Mendelsohn will be hoping no-one will recognise him with a balaclava on his head. There were also lackluster performances from the two female leads, Robin Tunney and Izabella Scorupco. One of them, Scorupco, is an ex-Bond girl ('Goldeneye') – the casting people obviously didn't realise she was going to be spending the entire movie wrapped up in Gore-Tex. There's no sex at high altitude – it's too damned cold and anyway survival takes precedence over procreation.

I think Roger Ebert got it right on this one – a 'B' movie with an 'A' movie budget. There are all sorts of anomalies – the lack of visible water vapour issuing from the climbers, their sprightly behaviour even after hours at 26,000 feet, the use of north wall hammers to attack a rock/ice pitch, the miraculous helicopter piloting – but somehow the magnificence of those great peaks comes through. The worst thing about a movie like this is that it portrays the mountains as hellish, which is far from the truth. What is it the psalm says 'I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my strength'? Climbing is one thing I have never regretted doing, and it would be a pity if people were put off the sport by stuff like this. Actually I think the people who do attempt peaks like K2 would see this film as preposterous, overblown Hollywood brown smelly stuff, and they'd be right. But there is some nice scenery.


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