- Anthony Hopkins as Charles Morse
- Alec Baldwin as Bob Green
- Harold Perrineau as Stephen
- Elle MacPherson as Mickey Morse
An exciting adventure thriller that wisely eschews the desire to be just about non-stop action, The Edge keeps interest throughout thanks to a cool script and good acting from the leads of Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. It isn’t the kind of film that is going to garner awards, but it is still entertaining and has some welcome changes to what we have come to expect.
Billionaire Charles Morse accompanies his much younger model wife Mickey on a photo expedition to Alaska. Also along for the shoot is fashion photographer Bob Green. Charles is a quiet and introspective man who reads a lot and has a very good memory. Lately, he has come to believe that his beautiful wife may be straying with the slightly arrogant Bob. He can’t prove this, but it does bother him. So when Bob wants to employ the services of a local man and persuades Charles to come with him and his assistant Stephen, it seems strange that he should go. Though edgy as he suspects Bob of coveting his wife, Charles goes along anyway, if anything it seems to confirm suspicion. Yet when they can’t find the man, they search around for him among the huge wilderness. This is cut short as the plane crashes into the wilderness, killing the pilot. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, the three men make a stab at returning to safety, which is thwarted by death traps and power of nature. Soon enough, unprepared Stephen is killed by an enormous bear that is stalking them. Left now are Charles and Bob, whose differences are vast and opinions of the other are far from glowing. Thankfully, Charles has an excellent memory and having read about the wild, puts his knowledge to good use as he and Bob journey for what could be safety. Over time and worn down by the surroundings, Bob warms to Charles a lot more and the two begin to share a slow but slightly uneasy kinship. Yet the seeds of doubt are still present and could break apart the fight for survival and return to civilisation. And there is also the rather large and savage bear on their tail that refuses to rest until the two men become its next meal. Hacking through dangerous terrain and braving the extreme elements, Charles and Bob must find a way to finally overcome animosity to work together. Yet can their differences and grudges thaw in order for them to pursue survival in a dangerous climate?
I’m not the biggest fan of director Lee Tamahori. His later efforts following this film, mainly Along Came a Spider and Die Another Day, leave a lot to be desired. But I have to say that his direction here was actually atypically skillful and took me by complete surprise. If only he continued to direct like he does here, he could be a credible director. Stunning and accomplished camerawork makes the wilderness locations eye-catching in beauty and amount of scope it conjures up. It also successfully suggests the enormity of the two men’s plight as they are often shown small a against the trees and mountains they journey through. One of the best areas within The Edge is the screenplay from David Mamet, that is punchy and fresh. It takes a rather simple set up and embellishes it with wit and depth, both of which are rather lacking in many other adventure action films. It is most successful in the characters of Charles and Bob, who while they seem to develop something of a respect for each other, still have an underlying feeling of tension to them. And The Edge while witty and dramatic, doesn’t leave the action by the wayside. Far from that, it has some amazing action scenes, particularly the bear attack sequences, that act in accordance with character development and for the most part hold up in a taut way. I was very impressed and surprised by how well the film came together. Though The Edge is far from flawless; the main issue is that it’s rather overlong and stretches things a bit too much. Though with that being my only niggle, it is safe to say that The Edge is a film I genuinely found myself thrilled by. A mood enhancing score does wonders, while offering glimmers of hope for the stranded men.
It is the cast of The Edge that elevates what could have been a routine exercise. Anthony Hopkins is his intelligent and memorable best here, peppering his role with an unassuming demeanor and splashes of humour. The role of Charles is one where knowledge provides power and endurance is something he gains from his harrowing experiences. And it must be stated that Anthony Hopkins, being the professional he is, contributes a very good performance to The Edge that provides it with substance. Alec Baldwin similarly impressed me with an unexpectedly vulnerable turn as the shallow but cracking Bob. Vulnerability is not normally a word I would associate with Alex Baldwin, but he pulls it off admirably and his chemistry with Anthony Hopkins is what keeps the film ticking over. Because the main basis of the film surrounds Hopkins and Baldwin, the supporting players are not given much to do that is memorable. Harold Perrineau is good in his relatively small part of the doomed Stephen, but his character is merely a plot device. The same goes for Elle MacPherson who plays the model wife of Anthony Hopkins. She is beautiful that is true, but her part is pretty thankless.
An unexpectedly well done action thriller that has refreshing character development and some fantastic dialogue, The Edge is definitely underrated stuff that while far from perfect, knows the balance between action and drama and can supply both effectively.