Expert mountain rescue climber Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) leaves the Rocky Mountains behind, blaming himself following a tragic incident during a botched rescue that leaves his best friend’s girlfriend (Michelle Joyner) dead.
He returns many months later, hoping to rekindle a relationship with Mountain Ranger Jessie Deighan (Janine Turner).
Gabe reluctantly agrees to help rescue a group stranded in the mountains, unaware that the group are heavily armed murderous thieves who hijacked a US Treasury plane to steal over $100 million in $1,000 bills. They have lost the three large suitcases containing the cash and need Gabe’s help to locate them.
The bad guys are deliciously over the top, none more so than the bullishly nasty John Lithgow as former government Intelligence Agent Eric Qualen, whilst Sly gets beefcake support from the ever-reliable Michael Rooker as Hal Tucker.
It’s basically Die Hard on a mountain – the one-liners, the multinational villains, the big shootouts – but Sly Stallone is as convincing an action hero as you’re ever likely to see, and the film is fun to watch and full of very spectacular physical special effects (no CGI here).
Cliffhanger made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the costliest aerial stunt ever performed. British stuntman Simon Crane was paid $1 million to cross between two planes at 15,000 feet without any safety devices or trick photography. The insurance company refused to insure Crane, so Sylvester Stallone offered to reduce his own fee for the movie by the amount that the stunt cost to produce.
Crane made it across, but the wind dragged him loose as he tried to enter the second plane. He bounced along the top of the plane, narrowly missed being sucked into the engine, and disappeared over the tail. His concealed parachute saved him, and director Renny Harlin wisely decided not to ask for a retake, instead using clever editing to make it look like Crane made it.
Gregory Scott Cummins
Treasury Jet Pilot
Treasury Helicopter Pilot