The Fall (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): Stuck at the top of a 600-meter tower

“The Fall” often made me wince and cringe for good reasons. As I said several times before, I have considerable aversion to high places, and I must say that the movie did a pretty good job of unnerving me as frequently emphasizing how its two main characters are helplessly being stuck at the top of a very, very, very tall TV tower. Although I also must point out that it is often rote and conventional in terms of story and characters, the movie still works thanks to not only admirable technical aspects but also some committed acting to be appreciated, and that may be good enough for you if you have some free time to spend.

During its opening part, the movie quickly establishes the very troubled status of one of its two main characters. Since she saw her dear husband falling to his death in the middle of their very risky rock-climbing attempt, Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) has struggled a lot with her loss and grief during several months, and that certainly affects her relationship with her father. He is genuinely concerned about his daughter, but they argue with each other when he confronts her not long after her another morose drinking evening, and that adds more estrangement to their strained relationship.

Meanwhile, Becky is approached by her friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner), who was incidentally with Becky and her husband at the time of that unfortunate accident. Unlike Becky, Hunter has busily been doing a series of risky climbing activities for her online fans out there, and she suggests to Becky that she really should try climbing again for herself. As a matter of fact, she is soon going to climb to the top of an abandoned TV tower in the middle of some remote area, and she wants Becky to accompany her.

Becky is naturally reluctant at first, but she eventually joins her friend because she does feel that she needs the closure for her immense loss along with some healing. Once they succeed in climbing to the top of that TV tower, she is going to spread the ashes of her dead husband up in the air, and her friend will gladly record everything for entertaining her online fans later.

When they come to that remote area, everything looks fine and well to them, and they subsequently begin their climbing along that TV tower, which looks quite unreal in contrast to the sheer flatness of the surrounding landscape. Believe or not, this TV tower, which is around 2000 feet (600 meters), is actually based on the KXTV/KOVR Tower radio tower in Walnut Grove, California, and I learned from Wikipedia that it is really around 600 meters besides being much taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Around the point when Becky and Hunter are almost close to the top of the TV tower, there come some small warning signs as expected, but they keep climbing, and then they eventually arrive at the top as enjoying the breathtaking view surrounding them. While it is clear that lots of CGI was used for the production of the film, the result of the technical efforts from director/co-writer/co-producer Scott Mann and his crew members including cinematographer Miguel “MacGregor” Olaso is vivid and striking to say the least, and we can really believe that the two main characters of the film are taking considerable risk as they climb higher and higher.

Of course, things go quite wrong around the time when Becky and Hunter are about to climb down the TV tower, and they consequently find themselves stuck at the top of the TV tower without any possibility of getting help. While nobody knows where they are right now, they cannot use their smartphones to call anyone, and, to make matters worse, they do not even have anything to eat or drink at present.

This is surely a nice setup for solid survival drama, and the screenplay by Mann and his co-writer Jonathan Frank diligently supplies one danger after another along the story, but it stumbles more than once when it attempts to develop its two main characters and the drama between them. While Becky is mostly defined by her grief and desperation, Becky’s estranged relationship with her father feels artificial and redundant, and Hunter’s certain complicated personal situation with Becky will not surprise you much without bringing much to the story on the whole.

Anyway, the movie works best whenever it simply focuses on danger and survival, and you will seldom be bored during this part. I particularly like the scene involved with vicious condors (This is not much of a spoiler because they appear early in the film in advance), and I also appreciate the believable acting from Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner. I am sure that they took much less risk than Tom Cruise in his recent Mission Impossible flicks, but, boy, they still look pretty convincing nonetheless as their characters deal with one peril after another on the screen.

Overall, “The Fall” is relatively less satisfying that recent survival drama films ranging from “Gravity” (2013) to “The Shallow” (2016), but it does its job fairly well in its very limited main background. Despite its several notable flaws, it surely reminds me again that I really do not like going up to high places at all, and I guess that is enough for recommendation for now.

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