Surivival tale about two stranded strangers ends up lost itself

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A plane crash brings two strangers together in “The Mountain Between Us,” a survival tale-turned-love story that would have been better off had it chosen to be one or the other.

Kate Winslet plays Alex, a photojournalist whose Denver-bound flight out of Idaho is canceled; Idris Elba’s Ben, a neurosurgeon, was due on the same plane. Both faced with pressing deadlines — Alex is en route to her own wedding — they decide to charter a plane together to get out of Dodge.

When that plane goes down in Utah, Alex and Ben — along with the pilot’s trusty dog — are forced to fend for themselves in the snow-covered mountain region. Alex suffers a leg injury during the crash so her mobility is limited. They’re torn between staying put inside the wreckage of the plane and hoping help will come for them or heading out into the great wide open to try and find rescue.

Director Hany Abu-Assad (the Oscar-nominated “Omar”), working from a script adapted from Charles Martin’s novel, doesn’t burrow far enough into the nitty gritty details to make this a sustainable story of survival; it feels too glossy, too surface-level. Showing something as simple as the two characters building a fire would help in this regard; rather, the fire appears, and the audience is just asked to trust it.

When it turns into a love story, it feels like a late-inning switcheroo that, if that’s where it was headed all along, should have got there a lot quicker, and a lot cleaner. There’s a bigger obstruction here than the mountain between the characters: it’s the story that can’t get out of the way of itself.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The Mountain

Between Us’

GRADE: C

Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language

Running time: 109 minutes

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