The Mountain Between Us works well as a disaster movie, though when the film takes a more romantic turn, things start to fall apart.
Director Harry Abu-Assad chose established actors Idris Elba (Ben) and Kate Winslet (Alex) and, predictably, both give strong, believable performances as two strangers who meet when stranded at an airport, and decide to charter a private plane to get to Denver.
When the plane crashes on a remote mountain Ben, Alex, and the pilot’s dog are left to fend for themselves in this unforgiving environment. These two characters are stark contrasts and the chemistry between the two helps fill some of the more strained moments of the film where the on-screen action is trekking through snow or lying in a cave.
There are tense scenes in the film; but these are sporadic, and overall, one does not feel that the protagonists are in any real danger.
Instead of focusing on the perilous environment and the struggle for survival, Abu-Assad wove a romantic theme into the film which failed to fit comfortably into the story. However, the human drama explored in the film is not wasted.Ben’s character unravels slowly over the two hours running time and both Ben and Alex grow as the film treads on.
The highlight of this film lies in the cinematography.
The sweeping wide-angle shots of the mountain range in which the pair are stranded makes for compelling viewing in and of itself. The crisp sky and mountain throws the viewer into the wilderness. But this is also why the films denouement, which is set in a more mundane environment and spans about twenty minutes, lets the rest of this movie down. Abu-Assad takes too long to tie up the loose ends and tries to give the film snug ending that comes across as clichéd.
Overall, The Mountain Between Us is an enjoyable story of survival, but one that should have ended at the ninety minute mark.