Big Picture Big Sound

The Mountain Between Us Review

By Matthew Passantino

Winslet and Elba Can't Move Mountains

The Mountain Between Us” wants to be so many things at once that its mix of survival epic, romance, and disaster flick often clashes with itself, creating an altogether clunky experience. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad from the novel by Charles Martin, this feels like something we’ve seen many times before – and often done better.

Through sheer convenience, photojournalist Alex (Kate Winslet) and Ben (Idris Elba), a surgeon, are both supposed to be on a flight heading to New York City. Alex is getting married the next day and Ben is scheduled to perform surgery on a 10-year-old boy. All commercial flights are cancelled due to a massive storm, but Alex suggests they charter their own plane, thus helping each other out. Thanks to Walter (Beau Bridges), Alex and Ben are off the ground in no time, accompanied by Walter’s scene-stealing dog.


Everything seems great and Alex and Ben are thrilled to be on their way to their important destinations but pilot Walter dies en route, causing them to crash in the snowy mountains. Ben wakes up badly bruised, and Alex comes to with a broken leg. The two immediately start planning how they are going to get out of this situation.

Alex and Ben’s journey and fight for survival are so gorgeously captured by cinematographer Mandy Walker that it's always easy to be in awe of the scenery. As beautiful as it is, “The Mountain Between Us” looks a bit too pristine, so it lacks the grit it needs for us to be enraptured by the characters' quest for survival. If it weren't for Ben's bruises or the makeshift cast on Alex’s leg, you would think most of “The Mountain Between Us” was a magazine spread.

Most of the movie takes familiar steps along its trajectory, and any sense of danger evaporates quickly. The middle portion isn’t so much worried about Alex and Ben's survival but their will-they, won’t-they romance, which grows as the days in the mountains pass on. At some point in the movie, you will ask yourself if you even care.

Winslet and Elba are such good actors and have a strong enough screen presence that they make the silliest moments in the movie nearly believable, even as the urge to roll one’s eyes grows greater. These are two actors you would not expect in such a movie but they never phone it in and do their best to make us care about Alex and Ben’s story even when the flimsy screenplay does not.

If pretty movie stars in peril is something you are interested in, “The Mountain Between Us” might deliver. If you are looking for high-stake thrills, maybe seek those elsewhere.

What did you think?

Movie title The Mountain Between Us
Release year 2017
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary Kate Winslet and Idris Elba do their best, but this clunky mix of survival epic, romance, and disaster flick wants to be too many things at once.
View all articles by Matthew Passantino
More in Movies
Big News
Newsletter Sign-up
Connect with Us