6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain Review
Eric LeMarque spent 8 days lost and alone on the Sierra Nevada Mountains and lived to tell the tale
Lost and alone on the side of the mountain, Eric LeMarque is forced to battle his demons and rediscover the strength and resilience he’d lost long ago.Eric LeMarque had all the potential to make it right to the top in the professional ice hockey world. But a temper, a series of bad choices and a drug addiction meant he had to leave that life behind him, flushing it down the proverbial toilet. It took getting arrested following a car accident to give LeMarque a long overdue reality check. Set on clearing his mind, and his body, he takes off to a cabin in the mountains, where he can cut himself off from the world and all its distractions in the hopes of substituting his chemical high for a natural one, the adrenaline rush from snowboarding.Unaware of a looming storm on the horizon, LeMarque, played by Josh Hartnett, heads up the mountain ready to feel that crisp air in his lungs and the sun beating down on him as he glides down the slopes. A bold choice to take a double black diamond slope winds up getting LeMarque all turned around, especially with the storm closing in, which is causing drastically reduced visibility. It’s not long before LeMarque is well and truly lost, marking the first of seven nights and eight days that he would spend out in the unforgiving, frozen wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the film 6 Below.
What’s worse is that no one knows LeMarque is missing. With no phone signal, no food or drink his chances of survival are rapidly depleting with hypothermia and frostbite now a very real threat. As if that wasn’t bad enough, LeMarque is forced to go cold turkey without any access to drugs and, as a result, he must confront the demons that lead to all the bad decisions in his past if he is ever going to rediscover the strength he’ll need to survive.
Based on the book by the real life Eric LeMarque and directed by Scott Waugh, 6 Below seems desperately trying to be both entertaining as a film, whilst simultaneously trying to shoehorn in all the small details that contributed to LeMarque being on the mountain at the same time. It perhaps would have been delivered better as a documentary rather than a filmic adaptation. The setting for most of the film is obviously on the mountains, which do get a bit tiresome after a while. It all looks the same. There were some great shots of the mountains taken from the air, but this didn’t make up for the overall monotonous feel to the film. And the film predominantly stays with Hartnett’s LeMarque which I understand is the point, but it’s very difficult to make a film solely focused on one character (although Moon, for instance, did it wonderfully). The use of flash backs attempts to combat this but mostly come across as cliched and predictable – as a film, I don’t know how much truth there was to these.
Despite great performances from Hartnett and Sorvino - 6 Below doesn’t quite deliver
In spite of the somewhat tedious feeling to the narrative, the film's main positive comes from the performances of the two primary characters; Josh Hartnett as LeMarque and Mira Sorvino as his mother Susan LeMarque. They are both great, with Hartnett believably looking as though he is suffering the full effects of the harsh weather and lack of food or water. His performance definitely came across as desperate and I am sure that within his capacity he did justice to the ordeal that the real LeMarque went through. Sorvino is similarly great as the anguished mother (complete with that New York accent she does so well) frustrated by her son’s apparent lack of care for life and the total disregard he has for his future. In a much smaller role is Sarah Dumont as Sarah – part of the mountain rescue crew. She is fairly nondescript in the film and came across as very flat at times but over-acting at others.
6 Below is without a doubt an interesting and incredible story but perhaps one that was better suited for a different means of big screen adaptation. With any film that is based on reality, especially with one where the ending is obviously very clear, there needs to be a level of entertainment to keep the audience engaged and interested and unfortunately this just never really came to fruition. It felt long in places and there was a lot of filler used in between scenes, so perhaps this is one for home viewing rather than a trip to the cinema.
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