Thursday, August 11, 2022

Fall: It’s Still the Landing that Kills You

Whether it is in Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger or the Brazilian TV serial Ilha de Ferro, whenever you see a mountain-climber couple early on, there is a good chance one of them is about to take the express elevator back to level ground. In this case, it will be Becky Connor’s husband, Dan. We hardly knew old Danny Boy, but Connor sure takes his death hard. To revive her spirits, Connor’s friend Shiloh Hunter convinces her to scale the lofty but abandoned B67 TV Tower, supposedly the 4th tallest structure in the world (as was once true for the still-functioning KXTV/KVOR Tower, on which it is based). The climb will be harder than they anticipate in Scott Mann’s Fall, opening tomorrow in Theaters.

Nearly a year after her husband’s tragic death, Connor is still moping around, pushing away everyone who cares about her. However, Hunter convinces her to climb the B67, so they can scatter his ashes, while generating clicks for Hunter’s YouTube channel. Seriously, couldn’t they find someplace safer to explore, like a haunted mental asylum in Romania?

The climb up is relatively easy and uneventful as long as you ignore the sound of loose bolts plummeting to the ground below. Unfortunately, on the way down, nearly the entire external ladder dislodges, leaving Connor and Hunter stranded over 2,000 feet in the air, with no footholds to help them scale down the smooth needle-like structure.

If any cranky pedant complains the CGI isn’t real enough in
Fall, I have to ask, how real do they really want it to be? It is certainly real enough for us to suspend our disbelief. This film makes the Dubai Burj Khalifa sequence in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol look like cartoonish small potatoes in comparison. If you are sensitive regarding heights, this film will freak you out.

Admittedly, there is some dumb melodrama that transpires between Connor and Hunter. It also lifts a face-palm-worthy page out of
47 Meters Down’s script (it and Fall share a producer in common: James Harris), but at least it gets past that groan-worthy moment. However, you have to give Mann and co-writer Jonathan Frank credit for keeping one gosh-darned-thing coming after another. This is a total cliffhanger (with respects to the Stallone-Harlin movie, which is also an under-valued roller-coaster ride).

Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner are physically convincing as the distressed and exhausted Connor and Hunter, but they are overshadowed by the sheer spectacle of
Fall. Mann, cinematographer “MacGregor,” and the special effects team maintain their dizzying visuals and some truly eye-popping stunts.

When climbing up a rusty hulking tower, should one of the ladder rungs give way under your foot, think about going out for a beer instead. Granted, Connor and Hunter make some really bad decisions in
Fall, but they do so amid an amazingly rendered setting. Recommended for fans of extreme-height thrillers (it might even be the new top dog of the pack), Fall opens tomorrow (8/12) in New York, at the Regal E-Walk.