While not without an issue or two, "The Edge" remains one of the more underappreciated films of the late '90's. Written by David Mamet, the film focuses on billionaire Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), who flies on his private plane with his wife (Elle MacPherson) and a fashion photographer named Bob (Alec Baldwin) to do a photo shoot in the wilds of Alaska.
While at the lodge, Charles quietly takes in his surroundings, spying on Bob's attempts at flirtation with his wife and sharing the knowledge of the wild that he's never been able to put to use. When Bob decides to go seek out a real native to appear in the photo shoot, Charles decides to tag along with Bob and his assistant, Stephen (Harold Perrineau, of "Lost").
In the midst of a conversation about life, Charles drops a bombshell, questioning Bob's true intentions. Before the shock can even set in, the plane runs into a flock of geese and crashes. The two drag Stephen to shore and soon realize that they're in the middle of nowhere, with help hours away. Still, the tension of the plane ride slowly boils to the surface, making Bob and Charles realize that the true danger may not be the wilderness (although that's a force to be reckoned with) but each other.
Handled well by director Lee Tamahori, "The Edge" proceeds with a quiet tension fueled by outstanding performances from Baldwin and Hopkins, as well as cinematography that highlights both the incredible beauty of the area as well as the growing feeling of isolation. A very angry bear lurking through the forest tracking the three adds yet another layer of tension in the second half of the film. As epic as the scenery and journey may be, "The Edge" remains a morality play at its core, with the battle of wits between the two very different men at center stage.
Hopkins delivers a subtle effort that results in every line having greater impact, while Baldwin's performance does an excellent job hiding the malevolence that lurks just beneath the surface of the character. There is also a bear, who, when watching the characters walk across a log over a gap, manages to come up with the plan to shake the log by jumping on it.
The film isn't without issues; MacPherson isn't called upon to do anything much, and Perrineau's character seems unnecessary. As much tension as the movie generates, it is a bit guilty of telegraphing some of the drama in advance, as well. Since, while moments may be predictable, there's no denying the horror that sets in as the men realize in one moment that the scenery looks familiar.
"The Edge" isn't without flaw, but strong performances, solid writing and fine direction do still make for a haunting adventure/drama.
VIDEO: "The Edge" is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) by 20th Century Fox. The original DVD presentation was a non-anamorphic effort, but while this Blu-Ray presentation is certainly an improvement, it is not without some issues. Sharpness and detail are certainly better, as clarity and definition impress during much of the running time.
On a positive note, the print used appeared pristine, with no specks, marks or other flaws. However, mild edge enhancement is seen during a handful of scenes and was a tad distracting. No noise or other concerns were spotted. Colors looked pure and natural, appearing slightly bolder and richer than the DVD edition.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 presentation isn't an all-out assault, but it is certainly intense during key moments, with surrounds offering up all manner of wilderness noises amd ptjer effects. Even during the quieter moments, the rear speakers do provide mild ambience (wind gusts, twigs cracking, etc.) Audio quality was first-rate, with natural-sounding, well-recorded effects and moments of deep bass.
EXTRAS: Trailer for "The Edge", as well as other Fox titles.
Final Thoughts: "The Edge" isn't without flaw, but strong performances, solid writing and fine direction do still make for a haunting adventure/drama. The Blu-Ray edition boasts above-average audio/video quality, but next-to-no extras. Recommended.
The Film B+