K2 (1991)


(director: Franc Roddam; screenwriters: from the play by Patrick Meyers/Patrick Meyers/Scott Roberts; cinematographer: Gabriel Beristain; editor: Sean Barton; music: Chaz Jankel; cast: Matt Craven (Harold Jameson), Michael Biehn (Taylor Brooks), Raymond J. Barry (Phillip Claiborne), Luca Bercovici (Dallas Woolf); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jonathan Taplin/Marilyn Weiner/Tim Van Rellim; Paramount; 1992)

“Forget about climbing the mountain, I found it difficult enough just sitting through this film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Franc Roddam (“Quadrophenia”/”The Bride”) probes the always asked question — why climb mountains? Not surprisingly, the answers are an assorted bunch of clichés. Roddam based it on the successful 1983 play by Patrick Meyers. It’s about two risk taking young men from Seattle, Harold Jameson (Matt Craven) and Taylor Brooks (Michael Biehn), who try to climb the world’s second highest mountain, K2, at 28,250 feet. It might be second to Everest (29,028 feet) in height, but climbers consider it more demanding.

In this buddy movie about opposites, arrogant playboy lawyer Taylor and sober-minded family man physics professor Harold will eventually be off to Pakistan to do their climbing thing. The mountain scenes are stunningly filmed by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain in Pakistan and British Columbia. But, unfortunately, the climbers are so dully characterized that the visuals remain as the only reason to see the film, the rest is all downhill.

Before the big climb there’s one in Alaska, where two climbers die–showing the risk involved for our boys. There the boys hook up with Phillip Claiborne (Raymond J. Barry), a billionaire climber, who invites them to try out for the expedition team he sponsors (there’s an opening because the two dead men were members of his team). They are accepted and prepare for the climb of K2, in northern Kashmir. The ultimate trip is filled with dangers such as an avalanche, childish challenges from a rival, and a spiritual challenge as they face a life and death situation after a fall. The action scenes can’t save it from its tedium, blatant product placement ads, its banal premise that one should go for their dream in life no matter what, and that the two leads are not very sympathetic figures so we don’t give a darn about their uninteresting thoughts.

Forget about climbing the mountain, I found it difficult enough just sitting through this film.


REVIEWED ON 10/11/2006 GRADE: C   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/