By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer
Q: What happens when two strangers with places to be attempt to take on a fast-moving winter storm with the help of a slightly sketchy pilot and a small airplane?
A: Nothing good, that’s what.
In “The Mountain Between Us,” Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is a jet-setting photojournalist who wants nothing more than to catch her flight home so she doesn’t miss her own wedding. Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a surgeon who is needed across the country by morning for an emergency operation.
With their flights canceled and strict deadlines to keep, the two strangers charter a small plane in hopes of outrunning the impending storm and making their connecting flights. The universe, however, has different designs.
While crossing the mountains, the plane crashes and the duo is left cold, injured, alone, and hungry in the middle of nowhere, without phone reception, any idea of where they’re heading, how they’ll get there, or what is awaiting them on their journey for survival.
Here’s some things to know about “The Mountain Between Us”:
The story is pretty vanilla and predictable, but it’s inoffensive enough that it can feed off of its other, more impressive traits to make it a worthwhile watch.
It is visually stunning – the snow, the mountains, the wilderness, Mother Nature … while these are things I generally don’t like or seek out in the real world, I can sit back and truly enjoy their on-screen beauty. The vast emptiness shown while the characters are on the move also provides an interesting contrast to up-close and personal nature shown while they are stationary.
Kate Winslet again does Kate Winslet things, and we shouldn’t be surprised by that. She doesn’t really choose too many bad projects, and even those that are questionable she’s able to make watchable (at least her parts) simply because of her ability.
The real revelation here is the work of Idris Elba.
Elba, for me, has always been something of a question mark. I know people that absolutely adore him and swear by his work. However, I suspect many of those people formed their opinions based more on his semi-regular appearances on those World’s Best Dressed and World’s Most Beautiful lists than his actual body of work. As for me, I’ve never really understood the fascination.
This time, though, this time I get it. He brings a fire I’ve never seen from him to Ben. And that fire is something that was gravely needed to bring this very reserved, very straight-laced character to life. I don’t think we’re talking award level stuff here, but he absolutely stole the show from his co-star, which is a feat in itself.
Overall, “The Mountain Between Us” isn’t a revolutionary masterpiece, but thanks to some wonderful scenery and cinematography, and two outstanding lead actors, it’s definitely worth a trip to the theater.
★★★1/2 of ★★★★★
Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic and the owner of www.ManVersusMovie.com.