The Edge The Edge

I had a few minor nits to pick with this silly film, but before I start out I have to say the scenery was really nice.

What plot there is you can figure out from the trailers. And watching Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins do their thing is lots of fun. Plus the scenery is nice.

But still. We have a Lost Billionaire in the Wilderness. A guy named Charles Morse, played by Sir Anthony. He's read and memorized every book on survival ever written. He and his bold companions fashion-photographer Robert (Alec Baldwin) and Stephen (some other guy), plus a pilot have flown off away from their Rustic Hunting Lodge base camp, some forty miles. Once there, for reasons that are sort of adequately explained, they go another twenty miles, and have a crash. The pilot dies, Robert, Charles, and Stephen are unharmed.


What do they do? They decide to walk out, because, due to that unexpected twenty mile jog No One Will Know Where They Are.

And this ignores how search and rescues really go. What will happen is this: someone with a big map will take the range of that airplane—miles per gallon times gallons on board—and set a compass to that distance. He will then put the point of the compass on the known starting point, and swing a circle. After that, since this is a Billionaire we're talking about, the sky will come alive with aircraft. And sixty miles away is almost dead center of that search zone.

What our hero needs to do is build a nice big smoky fire and keep it going for a couple of days. Three fires would be better, but one will suffice.

If he's really desperate to show off his woodcraft by magnetizing a paperclip by rubbing it on his silk underwear (I'm not making this up) to make a compass, he can do that—it'll keep him out of trouble when he isn't tending the fires—and use it to find north/south. (The compass will work a lot better if he straightens the paperclip all out, by the way.) Since he's really WoodCrafty, I'm sure that he took magnetic variation into account, although he isn't shown doing it—depending on where in Alaska he is, magnetic South can be anything from 15 to 40 degrees away from true South. Then he can find a field somewhere and dig three trenches, about thirty feet long by three feet wide, about ten feet apart. Orient them north/south, and pile the dirt on the western side of each trench, so that the shadows will aid the effect. This will show up from the air. It'll show up on satelite photos too, and if this guy's that Billionaire a billionaire, someone will be maneuvering satelites to look for him.

Okay, fine.

Suppose there's no air search. They really do have to walk out. You'd think that they'd do something like blaze a trail, put up little cairns of stones, and suchlike, to let searchers know which way they went. But they don't do it.

And this all gets us to the Bart the Bear problem. They're pursued by a grizzly bear (played by Bart the Bear), who, having gotten the taste of Man, now will eat nothing else. (Who gets eaten? Well, who didn't get top billing?) This bear seems to be part shark. Cut your finger, and he'll find you from twenty miles away. (Actually, the thing that bears prefer to all other things, and that they will find from twenty miles away, is Jelly Doughnuts.) Bart is part of the reason they have to keep traveling on. Of course, if they'd stayed at the scene of the crash (and refrained from cutting their fingers) this wouldn't have been a problem.

All in all, good scenery.


The billionaire has a lovely young wife, a fashion model. One of his bold companions on the ill-fated air trip is, like I said, a fashion photographer. Not only that, but a heterosexual fashion photographer. Not only that, but one who specializes in shooting the wife, in all kinds of meanings of the term. On the first day at the Rustic Cabin (which led me instantly to flash on the line from the Disney Beauty and the Beast, "I use antlers in all of my decorating") where the photo shoot is to happen they have a surprise birthday party for Charles.

Let's get back to the Surprise Party. At this party, wifey gives billionaire a gold watch, engraved with something like "To the Best Husband in the World." Robert the photographer gives him a clasp knife, in a presentation case, with the Warranty tucked into the lid.

Our boy Charles spends the next day fooling with the knife while Robert is fooling with the wife. Well, the old boy suspects nothing. Or maybe he does. It's hinted at, then ignored for the next hour of screen time.

Some weeks in the wilderness later, after everyone has been totally immersed in water several times, in lakes, streams, rivers, and cloudbursts, while wearing clothing cunningly stitched from the tanned hide of Bart the Bear (they solved that problem the hard way), our heroes come to a deserted cabin. They're saved! This cabin has matches, a rifle and ammo, a canoe, a map, food, everything you'd want! Hooray!

Remember that presentation case, and the Warranty? For reasons that elude me, Charles took that knife still in the presentation case with him. And that warranty is still pristine. Clean, dry, not soggy, wet, brown, and returned to the pulp from which it was made. That's probably for the same reason Robert and Charles' fingernails still look good, and our heroes haven't lost a lot of weight.

Now the cabin has a pot-bellied stove, and Charles is going to start a fire. What to use for tinder? Ah ha! The Warranty! He unfolds it, and finds, folded with it, a receipt for two watches. One engraved "To the Best Husband in the world," and the other "To Robert: Thanks for All the Nights, Mickey." (The wife's name is Mickey Morse. I'm not making this up.) That's apparently so that, if Robert takes his watch off while washing his hands and leaves it in the men's room by accident, it'll still be incriminating.

So what's that piece of paper doing there? What string of events could plausibly—could possibly—have gotten it folded up with the knife's warranty and tucked into the presentation case? Let's see—is Mickey doing her own shopping? She gets the two watches engraved, picks up a knife so that Robert will have something to give to Charles too, and tucks the watch receipt into the knife box before handing it off? This has a very high intrinsic Oh Come On level. Or maybe it's a flunky who's doing the shopping. So this flunky now has the knowledge to blackmail Robert and Mickey. Must be a highly trusted flunky. And this flunky tucks the receipt into the presentation case.... nah. Can't see it. Nope, there's nothing short of active stupidity that can get that receipt into that case. (And what are both engraving orders doing on the same sheet of paper, anyway?)

After this, the ending gets Really Stupid. But what did you expect, anyway?

But hey, the scenery was really nice.

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