On the surface, The Edge is a survival/adventure movie about three men trying to find their way back to civilization after being stranded in the remote Alaskan wilderness. However, there are much stronger themes that permeate what might have been just a typical action/adventure movie. Award-winning screenwriter David Mamet’s script touches on more universal themes such as man vs. nature, the human condition, and the basic questions of "what is life about?" These are classic themes which are prevalent throughout the history of storytelling. Putting them in the context of an action film brings an added gravity, even if it doesn’t always work.
Anthony Hopkins plays billionaire banker Charles Morse. Morse is a man who has everything: wealth, intelligence, and a beautiful wife, but he lives a life of constant paranoia. Having everything means there is more to lose, and Charles has to always wonder what the true motivations of his friends are. Charles seems to be always under the assumption that he is not liked and that everyone is jealous of him, because he reacts with surprise if someone pays him a compliment. Who Morse is most paranoid about is photographer Bob Green, who is played by Alec Baldwin. Charles’ wife (Elle MacPherson) is a model and Bob is her photographer. Does Bob fancy Charles’ wife, and does Bob want Charles’ money? Charles can’t help but wonder.
For Charles’ birthday and Bob’s photo shoot with Charles’ wife, the group travel to a lodge deep in the wilderness. During the photo shoot, Bob decides his photos are not authentic enough and wants to track down a Native American friend of the lodge owner (L.Q. Jones). This requires a plane flight further into wilderness. Bob convinces Charles to join him and his camera assistant (Harold Perrineau of Lost) on the trip. When their small plane crashes in an even more remote wilderness, the group faces an 80-mile trek back to safety.
Charles, it turns out, is an expert in survival. However, he has only learned from books, not from any real life experience. Early in the movie Charles’ wife says he knows everything, but will his vast knowledge apply to real life survival? The group must deal with a lack of food, shelter, and being chased by a man-eating bear. From this point on, The Edge is filled with rather intense scenes of one perilous situation after another. The action sequences are sure to please an adventure movie-loving fan. The movie also becomes a story about a man’s will to survive, and that’s where the best twists and turns are. Charles has lived a life of privilege, while Bob has lived the life of a New York City fashion photographer. Neither man is suited for the challenge, but both press on, facing the unexpected at every step.
The performances in The Edge are top-notch. Hopkins is utterly believable in the role of a man who has everything but is unable to appreciate it out of fear of losing it. His quiet perseverance gives the movie momentum and genuineness even in the few occasions where the film takes some leaps of logic. Baldwin is great as well. He always keeps the audience guessing about his true motives, and does an excellent job of wavering between being sympathetic and antagonistic. Both actors were perfect for their respective roles.
The Edge is a well written, acted, and shot action/adventure/psychological thriller that is fun to watch. It explores morality and the human psyche while still providing a lot of thrills and excitement. This Blu-ray release looks excellent. The picture is sharp and clear, and the landscape is quite breathtaking. The sound is also great. The DTS 5.1 soundtrack is clear, and even the most hushed voices or soft winds can be heard. The contrast between those hushed tones and the loud sounds of howling bears or crashing planes mixes perfectly. There are no special features on this Blu-ray, but the film speaks for itself.