As action director Martin Campbell"s heart-pumping thriller VERTICAL LIMIT begins, an eagle glides gracefully over the stunningly filmed mesas of Utah. Its shadow falls on a vertical rock face being climbed by Peter Garrett (Chris O"Donnell), his father (Stuart Wilson), and his sister Annie (Robin Tunney). Suddenly a backpack hurtles by, followed rapidly by two climbers whose ropes tear the male Garretts from the rock face. The excruciatingly tense sequence ends in tragedy.
After this stunning opening, the action switches to the Himalayas, where tycoon Elliott Vaughn (Bill Paxton) has financed an expedition that will take him to the summit of K2--the world"s second highest mountain. Annie is one of Elliott"s party. In the face of a threatening storm, Elliott recklessly insists the climb should continue. The storm duly arrives and decimates the expedition, leaving Elliott and Annie stranded. Peter leads a group of climbers--including the grizzled Montgomery Wick (Scott Glenn) and a French-Canadian nurse (Izabella Scorupco)--in a rescue attempt. Campbell, director of photography Derek Tattersall, many daring cameramen, mountain climbers, avalanche specialists, and special effects technicians, along with veteran editor Thom Noble, deliver a beautifully filmed mountaineering thriller with even more heart-stopping moments than JAWS. Pre-viewed, shipping is $2.00.