Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are both talented performers and they bring their abilities to the table in “The Mountain Between Us.” However, the movie surrounding them is largely weak.
The film introduces Elba’s and Winslet’s characters at an Idaho airport where most of the planes have been grounded because of poor weather. Because the two need to get out of the area quick, though, with Alex (Winslet) needing to get to her wedding and Ben (Elba) having to get to a surgery, they are rather desperate to get in the air.
That’s when Alex comes up with the idea of taking a smaller charter plane from the airport and invites Ben to come along. At first the flight seems to be going well enough, but that soon flips as a series of events causes the plane to go down. The pilot dies in the accident and the rest of the film follows the two protagonists having to work together to get through a cold, harsh part of the country.
Despite seeming to be about survival, “The Mountain Between Us,” isn’t really about the characters surviving the predicament they’re in. This becomes apparent fairly quickly as the two are never put in extremely desperate positions (relatively speaking).
They continuously are able to find shelter as they make their trek toward civilization, and despite a bad leg for Alex, the two are able to cover quite a bit of ground. While in the theater, my mind kept wandering to other survival films, from “Cast Away” to “The Grey” where the situations were much more dire.
It all becomes obvious why the survival aspect seemed to take a bit of a backseat at the end of the film’s second act when Ben and Alex start making out. Yes, the whole set up of them being stranded on the mountain was for a romance to blossom between the two. This aspect is what really sinks the film and causes the third act to drag until a laughable ending to finish things off.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a romance where survival plays a big role. Kate Winslet was in another movie where that was a focus point and it worked pretty well. However, in “Mountain,” the romance feels completely forced and as it goes on the whole thing starts feeling like a soap opera.
What’s worse is that despite both performers having great talent and a lot of natural charm, the characters are never really likable. The movie sets Ben up as being a guy who doesn’t like to take a lot of risks and Alex as being a person who’s more adventurous to have an ‘opposites attract’ thing going on, but the movie plays up these aspects too much.
Throughout the film, those character themes end up having Alex and Ben bicker with each other more than anything, to the point where a friendship doesn’t even seem to be forming, let alone a romance. So, when the movie really starts pushing that aspect, it doesn’t feel real.
It also doesn’t help that many parts of the film that actually show some level of peril always involve Ben having to rescue Alex and it’s rarely the other way around.
“The Mountain Between Us” does score some points for its cinematography, which looks great. The landscape is well shot and shows the great lengths the characters have to go, so an overall sense of scale is given to the audience.
In the end, though, that and the acting from Elba and Winslet aren’t enough to save a rather melodramatic picture. 2.0 out of 5.