As you’ve all seen, we’ve been reviewing quite a few Mill Creek double features as of late, and I had the pleasure of taking a crack at the action movie combo of Stealth/Vertical Limit. One of these films was a moderate commercial success (Vertical Limit), the other was the tenth largest box office flop of all time (Stealth), and neither are particularly good.
Stealth tells the completely plausible story of a self-aware fighter jet that is struck by lightning and goes on a murderous rampage. This movie, put simply, is horrendous. The dialogue is bad, each action sequence ignores the simplest laws of physics, and halfway through the film the plot takes a left turn to Crapville.
The movie stars Jessica Biel as the eye-candy (aka Kara Wade), Josh Lucas as the poor man’s Matthew McConaughey (aka Ben Gannon), and Jamie Foxx as the jive-talkin’ black man (aka Henry Purcell). The trio is apparently the world’s greatest team of fighter pilots, able to fly at supersonic speeds at great altitude without supplemental oxygen, despite their difficulty understanding prime numbers. For some unknown reason, Kara’s in love with the womanizing Ben, and apparently all her longing looks and clumsy attempts at sexual tension are supposed to elicit an emotional response from the audience. I believe Henry’s role is the comic relief, but that’s just my speculation.
They’re joined by EDI (short for Extreme Deep Invader, sadly this is not a joke) the super plane, to act as a team of global police. Surprisingly, in a most unique turn of events, EDI is struck by lightning and goes haywire. It’s then up to the team to stop “him.” I didn’t see this movie when it came out because I thought it looked unbelievably stupid. Sadly, I was right. I have no idea how they were able to stretch the running time to over two hours. The same story could be told in 5-10 minutes.
Thankfully, while still not good, Vertical Limit is at least decent. Starring Chris O’Donnell as wildlife photographer Peter Garrett, Vertical Limit tells the story of Peter’s quest to save his mountain-climbing sister, Annie (Robin Tunney), after an avalanche on K2 traps her in an ice cave.
Bill Paxton plays the Texan caricature of Richard Branson, Eliot Vaughn, a billionaire tycoon with a love of pomp and publicity. Launching a new airline in under a week, Vaughn plans to have his airline’s maiden flight pass over K2 as he summits with Annie on his climbing team. Peter watches helplessly from base camp as Vaughn ignores weather conditions and charges ahead in the face of a storm. Annie, Vaughn, and Tom McLaren (Nicholas Lea) fall into a crevasse as an avalanche kills the rest of their expedition.
It’s up to Peter to recruit a team of misfits to go on a suicide mission to save the trio. This includes the mysterious mountain man, Montgomery Wick (Scott Glen).
This movie is rife with plot holes, terrible climbing techniques evident even to me, and ridiculously convenient story elements to further the “action” of this “action-thriller.” This is evidenced by the Pakistani Colonel (Roshan Seth), who speaks perfect English, and is completely willing to give Peter multiple large and leaky cans of nitro glycerin, partially for digging out Annie, but mainly for facilitating multiple explosions across K2 as everything inevitably goes wrong.
I thought this movie was absolutely great when it came out in eighth grade, but my opinion has changed slightly on a second viewing. It certainly does not help that the CG effects, particularly the eagle in the opening sequence, have not stood the test of time. Oh, and it doesn’t help that all the avalanche footage is obviously stock footage and is recycled a couple times. If you want a cheap way to spend a couple hours and are in the mood for Chris O’Donnell in a parka instead of his nipple suit in Batman and Robin, then Vertical Limit isn’t a bad choice. But if you want a good action movie, look elsewhere.
Both Stealth and Vertical Limit are presented in 1080p, with Stealth in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and Vertical Limit at 1.85:1. As bad as these movies are, the transfers for both are pretty good, with Stealth having the edge over Vertical Limit. The CGI in Vertical Limit is done no favors by the HD transfer, and the SD stock footage of the avalanches is pretty jarring. But overall, it’s not bad for a budget double feature.
The audio presentation for both is DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. While this provides a good atmosphere for action sequences, both films suffer from huge discrepancies between loud portions and quiet portions. Halfway through Stealth, I gave up on trying to adjust the volume and just turned it down and turned on the subtitles.
Nothing. Unless you count having a menu screen.
These are decent transfers of not great films onto one disc. Neither Stealth nor Vertical Limit are worth owning alone, but at this price point, I would not look down on anyone who wanted to buy a pair of mindless action movies on Blu-ray.