Retro Movie Review: CLIFFHANGER Starring Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow
For this retro review, we are going back to 1993. Back to a time when Sylvester Stallone’s muscles were as big as his box-office clout. Back when action movies were action movies.
Cliffhanger is without a doubt one of Stallone’s finest action films. It’s also director Renny Harlin’s best work. There’s not much bad to say about this film, other than John Lithgow’s portrayal of the villain is nearly identical to Alan Rickman’s performance in Die Hard. But still, Cliffhanger is a damn fine film.
Back in 1993, the budget for the film was a modest $65 million. Stallone was at that time a box-office machine. Cliffhanger had a great summer, grossing $255 million in the US.
Filmed largely in the Rocky Mountains, the premise of the movie is quite simple. Some bad guys lost their $100 million stash during a plane crash in the mountains. Stallone’s character, Gabe Walker, and no, he’s no relation to the Texas Ranger, is persuaded to help the stranded hikers. He later finds out the hikers are really a gang of violent robbers trying to find their loot.
Let the insane stunts, explosions, and shoot outs begin, as Stallone picks off each villain one by one. Don’t forget about his buddy Michael Rooker, who helps Stallone out, even though he dropped his girlfriend to her death to open the film.
While the action and acting is top-notch, the visual effects are what make Cliffhanger excel. 27 years later, the 4K version of the film is as beautiful as ever. Many critics and film buffs consider the visual effects and cinematography of Cliffhanger to be some of the best in the history of cinema. To go along with the beautiful mountainous scenes, we get a beefed-up Stallone and an overacting Lithgow trying to one-up each other in every scene.
Cliffhanger’s 4K release in 2018 is still a worthy summer popcorn flick. Do yourself a favor and check it out. I actually had forgotten about this little gem. I mean, in 1993, it only had to go against Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Free Willy. To overtake all those films, Stallone would have needed a serious testosterone boost. But, after going back and watching Cliffhanger, it stands the test of time.
Cliffhanger gets a B+