Josh Harnett is back. Interesting. I mean, it’s not like the guy’s gone very far, he’s done mostly indie films and smaller projects, as well as television, but it’s still not very often you see him. You really have to look for him and mainstream audiences probably aren’t savvy to his indie projects. In any case, it’s good to see him again.
The story is based on true events about Eric LeMarque, a guy who was stranded in the snowy mountains and managed to survive his ordeal. Sadly, I don’t know much about the real event, but if the trailer is any way truthful, it looks like Eric is a troubled dude who gets into a lot of legal trouble. In order to clear his mind, he goes on trip, alone, to snowboard, but gets caught in said storm. So… 127 HOURS (2010), but in the snow?
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Josh Hartnett (30 DAYS OF NIGHT , HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER , and TV show PENNY DREADFULL [2014 – 2016]), Mira Sorvino (MIMIC  and TV show FALLING SKIES [2011 – 2015]), and Sarah Dumont (SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE  and DON JON ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Scott Waugh, known for NEED FOR SPEED (2014) and ACT OF VALOR (2012). Penning the screenplay is Madison Turner, making her screen writing debut. Congrats, miss. Composing the score is Nathan Furst, known for NEED FOR SPEED, ACT OF VALOR, and LAKE PLACID 2 (2007). Finally, the cinematographer is Michael Svitak, known for a ton of short films, but making his feature-length debut. Congrats, sir.
Overall, this looks like it could be good, but I also recall seeing a lot of, “Don’t lose your faith” taglines, which makes me think this is secretly a religious film, but faith doesn’t always have to pertain to a religious deity.
This is my honest opinion of: 6 BELOW: MIRACLE ON THE MOUNTAIN
Based on true events, circa 2004. Eric LaMarque (Josh Hartnett) is a former hockey player who eventually became addicted to meth. After a reckless night of being high and driving, getting into a car accident, he is scheduled for a court hearing. Desperate to clear his head before the hearing, he takes a small trip to the Sierra Mountains to snowboard. However a storm is slowly encroaching, and just before the mountain is closed off to tourists, Eric boards off, takes a wrong turn and gets lost for nine days in the coldest winter seen in years.
You know what? I get it. I get why the critics are so hard on this film. But you know what? I still liked it for the most part.
First thing’s first, Hartnett is fantastic. Whether it’s him freezing his ass off in the snow, or pouring his heart and soul out in the flashback scenes, he’s really great. While the character is certainly nothing new, and I’m going to take a wild guess as to that being the reason why there’s so many negative reviews of the flick, but I think he brings enough charm and talent to hold his own, performance-wise. His interpretation of Eric does seem like he laments his decisions and genuinely wants to change his ways, so even if you don’t think he’s any ground-breaking character, Hartnett, you can’t deny that he’s at least sympathetic. In one scene when he unknowningly walks on a frozen lake and falls inside. He has his drugs in hand but accidentally lets it go. Before even knowing where to escape, he immediately swims after the drugs, gets them, and swims to safety, albeit freezing cold. In order to warm himself up, he strips naked and hugs his entire body, soon looking at his drugs and dumps them in the snow. I thought this scene was pretty powerful. I wrote down in my notes that I would have preferred to have this scene played out later in the film, but I don’t think it would have mattered. On the hand, getting rid of the drugs sooner shows that he acknowledges what just happened and what it almost cost him. As it were, the final straw, and didn’t want to put his addiction over his survival. On the other hand, I would have expected that he’d use the drugs in an attempt to, I don’t know, numb his senses to the freezing cold temperature his body dropped to, using the drugs to move himself along a little easier. But then again, I have no idea if that’s what meth would do, or even if that would be how it works, if he wouldn’t have all his senses on alert and not take proper care of himself. So in retrospect, I think him giving it up on his own early on was more practical and smarter.
Hartnett’s not the only good actor in here. Sorvino will tear your heart out. She plays Eric’s mother, Susan, who obviously loves her son, but because he’s sunk so low in his addiction, she’s at her wits end and gives up on him, even going so far as to not answer her phone when he tries to call her. But as soon as he goes missing and she doesn’t hear back from him, her performance is heartbreaking.
Now, this isn’t to say that the movie is perfect. In fact, there are some pretty terrible moments. The opening titles are downright cringeworthy. Whoever did the camera work either must have been a teenager who didn’t know what the hell he was doing, or he was given awful direction from the director because it’s absolutely annoying. It starts off nice enough, showing pretty scenery of the snowy mountain, but then it will spontaneously pan downward to look at trees for no reason and then back up to the mountain. Uh… okay… If that wasn’t bad enough, Hartnett has a long opening narration that comes and goes as the credits wiz by, as if giving time for the audience to read the names of the actors, and then listen to Hartnett when the name fades out. It’s really obnoxious. And the editing is so random in this movie too. Eric’s past and the events that lead him to this point of him being lost on the mountain are atrociously out of control and there never seems to a rhyme, reason, or even a proper segue into them. They appear out of nowhere and some of them I swear don’t even happen in chronological order.
I suppose in this particular movie’s case, I was pretty forgiving. I consider myself a fan of Hartnett’s, so when he’s part of something that’s in theaters, I get a little giddy. Sure, the movie’s not great, and there are certainly things that are beyond terrible. But Hartnett is acting his ass off and really sells this movie for me. I don’t think it’s as bad as the critics were saying. So I recommend it. Muscle through some of the bad parts and I think Hartnett will get you through this picture alright. I say, this film set is set six below freezing, but the film itself is above average.
My honest rating for 6 BELOW: MIRACLE ON THE MOUNTAIN: a strong 3/5