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Films to See After You Die: #22 Cliffhanger


Cliffhanger (1993)

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner

Synopsis: Park Ranger Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) and fellow ranger Jessie Deighan (Janine Turner) are dispatched to pick up their friend Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) on a narrow peak in the Rocky Mountains called “The Tower”, when his bad knee gives out. While moving from one mountaintop to a helicopter via a steel cable, Hal’s girlfriend Sarah’s harness breaks and she is left dangling over a deep chasm. While the others try frantically to come up with a solution, Gabe straps himself in and goes out to save Sarah, but is unsuccessful; her gloved hand slips through Gabe’s and she falls 4,000 feet to her death in the chasm. Eight months later, Gabe returns to town for the first time since Sarah’s funeral. Overcome with guilt over having lost Sarah, Gabe has returned only to pack his remaining possessions to leave permanently and convince Jessie to come with him. However, a radio distress call comes in to the local rescue center where Hal and Jessie still work. Hal heads off to find the stranded climbers while Jessie pleads with Gabe to join Hal’s rescue attempt. Battling his inner demons Gabe meets Hal on the mountain, where Hal, still angry with Gabe for being unsuccessful at saving Sarah, lashes out and almost throws Gabe off a ledge. The rescue turns out to be a fake; the two climbers are taken prisoner by a group of ruthless thieves led by former Military Intelligence member Eric Qualen (John Lithgow), who seeks to recover three suitcases containing $100 million in uncirculated $1,000 bills belonging to the United States Department of the Treasury. With the aid of turncoat Treasury agent Richard Travers, Qualen and his mercenaries attempt to steal the suitcases via a daring air-to-air transfer, but the transfer is foiled and the three suitcases are lost among the mountains and two die during the heist. The thieves’ plane loses power during the attempt and crashes. The suitcases holding the money have beacon locators, but the thieves need expert help locating them in the mountainous terrain, thus prompting them to summon the unwitting Gabe and Hal to their aid. After realizing what is up Gabe and Hal must work together and use their knowledge of the mountains to stop Qualen from getting away.

Trivia: To demonstrate his faith in the safety equipment, director Renny Harlin put on a harness and flung himself out on a cable over a cliff. Christopher Walken was originally cast as Qualen but left the production before filming began, so John Lithgow was cast at the very last minute.

Why I think you shouldn’t see this: Don’t get me wrong Cliffhanger is a very entertaining film it’s just not one I would recommend others see. I love Sly in almost anything he does and this makes for a OK time waster bu that is about it. The scenery is beautiful and Stallone is solid but for this is the first time John Lithgow  has ruined a movie for me he is just terrible as Qualen; he looks and sounds like an adult Stewie from Family Guy. In my opinion these types of films are only as good as their villain and this one has a doozy of a bad guy. If you want to watch some beautiful footage of the Rockies and some fun action then you won’t be too disappointed otherwise you aren’t in for anything new.


About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

2 responses to “Films to See After You Die: #22 Cliffhanger

  1. Have watched it and don’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t like heights!

  2. Cor! I am also a bit of a film geek, but I like really old movies. Do you like Hitchcock films?

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