Vertical Limit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vertical Limit
Vertical Limit.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by Martin Campbell
Robert King
Marcia Nasatir
Lloyd Phillips
Screenplay by Robert King
Terry Hayes
Story by Robert King
Starring Chris O'Donnell
Bill Paxton
Robin Tunney
Scott Glenn
Izabella Scorupco
Temuera Morrison
Stuart Wilson
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography David Tattersall
Edited by Thom Noble
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
December 8, 2000
Running time
124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million[1]
Box office $215,663,859[2]

Vertical Limit is a 2000 American survival thriller film directed by Martin Campbell and starring Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney and Scott Glenn. The film was shot on several locations including Monument Valley, New Zealand and Pakistan.


While climbing in Monument Valley, siblings Peter (O'Donnell) and Annie Garrett (Tunney) lose their father, Royce (Stuart Wilson). After two falling amateurs leave the family dangling, Royce forces Peter to cut him loose to save Peter and his sister. Peter has since retired from climbing and is a full-time wildlife photographer, and Annie has become a renowned mountain climber. Three years later during an wildlife shooting at lower Himalayans in Pakistan, Peter's assistant got injured. Peter then arrived at a base camp found Annie attempts to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain, which is very dangerous to climb because of the tough conditions which await at the summit. The expedition is funded by wealthy industrialist Elliot Vaughn (Paxton) who is also going to climb, with the help of his friend Tom McLaren (Nicholas Lea). There is a huge party the night before the climbers begin the trek. Vaughn is introduced to Peter, whom he asks to accompany them on the trip, but Peter refuses.

The climb is a disaster as the winds begin to wreak havoc, causing an avalanche. Annie, Vaughn, and Tom fall through a patch of ice and become trapped in a crevasse, while the others are killed. Annie radios back to base using Morse code and Peter learns of Annie's plight. Due to the seriousness of the cave-in, the rescue party brings old nitroglycerin in leaky canisters in an attempt to blast a hole for a rescue. Peter manages to assemble a rescue mission with the base's best climbers including brothers, Cyril and Malcolm (Le Marquand and Mendelsohn), Monique Aubertine (Izabella Scorupco), Kareem Nazir (Alexander Siddig) and Skip Taylor (Robert Taylor). Skip and Peter also visit the reclusive Montgomery Wick (Glenn), reported to be the world's best climber and foremost expert on K2, who agrees to join in the attempt to reach the team before they die of exposure. Skip is unable to go as Wick says he needs him on the ground directing the mission.

The teams pair off: Malcolm and Kareem, Monique and Cyril, and Peter and Wick. Each team takes different entry points up the mountain to increase chances of success. Monique and Cyril enter trouble when Cyril loses his balance and clings to the side of a cliff. After Monique secures her harness to him, the peak cracks and Monique also falls over the edge with the nitro exploding beneath them. Cyril is able to climb back up, but an avalanche throws him over the edge off the peak. Monique pulls herself up and radios in to inform base that Cyril has been killed. Back at the station, the nitroglycerine comes into contact with the sun and explodes. Base tell the teams to get their cases of nitroglycerin into the shade. With Monique, Wick, and Peter as witnesses, Malcolm and Kareem just manage to get the nitroglycerin, but the can containing it leaks and explodes, killing them both.

Meanwhile, underground, Annie begins to suffer from pulmonary edema. Tom is in a more severe state, with his leg and ribs broken. Vaughn is the only one unharmed and possesses the medical kit. Annie pleads with him to use dexamethasone to save Tom and herself, but Vaughn declines, unwilling to waste it on a "lost cause".

K2, the world's second highest mountain, lies mostly in the Gilgit-Baltistan Province of Pakistan, near Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

The next day, Monique finds a woman's body frozen in the ice, and Wick recognizes the body as his wife. He tells Peter that Elliot Vaughn is responsible for his wife's death. Vaughn's story from his first disastrous climb on K2 detailed that the dex was swept away, but Wick discovered an empty box of dex, proving that Vaughn used it for himself. Wick plans to kill him for his role in the death of the other climbers and warns Peter that his sister ought to watch her supply very carefully.

Meanwhile, in Annie's camp, Vaughn gives himself some dex and kills Tom with the syringe full of air to save the remaining dex for himself. Wick wakes up to find Peter and Monique gone, having continued trekking up the mountain. He soon locates where Annie and Vaughn are imprisoned, and they use the nitroglycerin to blast a hole, enabling access to the survivors. Wick descends into the cave and harnesses Annie, and although a weakened Vaughn thinks he is about to attack him, Wick attaches a harness to him as well. Along with Peter, he attempts to pull Annie out of the crevice, but an ice boulder falls, knocking Wick and Vaughn from the ledge in the crevice and pulling Annie and Peter down. Monique alone remains on the ledge holding the rope with the other four hang on to it. To save Annie and Peter, and possibly to get his revenge on Vaughn, Wick pulls a knife and cuts the rope holding himself and Vaughn (similar to Royce Garrett's death) dropping the two to their deaths.

Recovering at base camp, Annie reconciles with Peter, who finally pays his respects at a memorial for those killed on K2, including Wick, Vaughn, Kareem, his cousin Ali, Cyril and Malcolm, Tom McLaren, and Mrs. Wick.


Professional mountaineer Ed Viesturs has a cameo in the film, playing himself as a trainer.[3]


Vertical Limit received mixed reviews from critics, as the film holds a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 109 reviews.


  1. ^ 'Vertical Limit' (budget), Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "Vertical Limit box office statistics". 
  3. ^ Viesturs, Ed; David Roberts (2007). No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks. Random House, Inc. p. 225. ISBN 9780767924719. 

External links[edit]