6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain Review
6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is a 2017 biographical adventure film about an adrenaline seeking snowboarder gets lost in a massive winter storm in the backcountry of the High Sierras.
True life survival stories in the wild are some of the more agonizing and inspiring stories on film. All you need to look at are titles like Alive (1993) and 127 Hours (2010) and you get my meaning. Most of these deal with after-the-fact, a quick set up and boom, it’s man-versus-nature, the elements pushing someone to indescribable limits. Now comes Scott Waugh‘s 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain, a snowbound tale of courage, sacrifice and redemption, about a man with a past who must redefine himself if he’s to make it out alive.
Eric LeMarque (Josh Hartnett) was a once promising professional hockey player, a bad-ass who pushed himself to be the best, always getting back on his feet no matter how big the hit. It was a drug. But then the real drugs kicked in, his addiction to meth leading him to abandon his team and head to shelter himself with his mother (Mira Sorvino), though her condemnation of his behavior has him deciding to vent with a lone trip to the slopes of the Sierras. When a sudden storm rolls in, he takes one last run and goes off trial, getting lost in the whiteout. Thus begins a horrific fight for survival as he must face the very worst in nature to bring out the very best in himself.
You might already be thinking about what you can expect in a film where a man is stuck alone in a mountain snowstorm, and no doubt most of what you have on that list is here, from dead zone cell reception to packs of roving wolves and lots of flashbacks that detail a troubled backstory. And while these do all happen, they are but the least of his problems. Once the storm settles, he discovers he has no clue where he is and the more he boards the mountain, the more he seems separated from civilization. By the thirty-minute mark, he’s already gone through more than most could endure, motivated by defining moments in his past. And the worst is yet to come.
Essentially a one-man show, despite the steady breaks in the story, the film relies on Hartnett, who, much like Tom Hanks on a deserted tropical island, must learn the environment if he wants to make it out alive. Harnett might not have the same sympathetic presence Hanks has, but he does keep it compelling, Eric’s steady physical and mental breakdown not easy to watch, even as it teeters on a few contrived moments that push hard to be deeply impactful. It actually does best when it just lets Hartnett be alone in the woods and suffers a bit every time it leaves him. Hartnett is convincing and delivers a strong, physical performance, and it’s these harrowing moments on the mountain that truly keep the story afloat, with Michael Svitak‘s breathtaking cinematography giving Eric’s plight great space and weight.
6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain loses much of its momentum in the fluff around the survival, trying to make the film more about the redemption than the fight for life, padding the runtime with overly-wrought emotional tugs as pain and inspiration that ultimately weaken the otherwise very affecting story. It’s based on the true story of the very real Eric LeMarque and is layered in subtle faith-based themes, and while it surely is a story worth telling, becomes entrenched in its quest to be uplifting. For many, that might be just enough to make this worth a watch, and in fact, if anything, Hartnett alone has what it takes to give this a recommendation, just know it does everything it can to give you a huge emotional thump in the heart.
6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain Review
Movie description: 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is a 2017 biographical adventure film about an adrenaline seeking snowboarder gets lost in a massive winter storm in the backcountry of the High Sierras.
Director(s): Scott Waugh
Actor(s): Josh Hartnett, Mira Sorvino, Sarah Dumont
Genre: Biography, Drama