I did not hate The Mountain Between Us. I did not hate it, as many others rightfully did—I did not find it irredeemably treacly or irrevocably dumb—until, that is, the movie’s very last scene: a scene so shockingly laughable that it made all the merely not-very-good scenes that had come before it fully, and finally, unforgivable. I won’t spoil it, but will simply say that the very last moments of The Mountain Between Us give the very last moments of mother! a run for their money—and that, in those moments, the film that had thus far been a compelling tangle of genres (survival adventure, competence porn, rom-com, celebration of the human spirit, etc.) revealed itself for what it is, and indeed for what it had been, in poor disguise, the whole time: a Hallmark holiday movie that happens to begin with a plane crash. Meet-Cute on a Mountain. When Harry Met Sally, except he’ll definitely have what she’s having because the only thing on offer is flame-grilled mountain lion.
It goes, at first, like this: Ben (Idris Elba) and Alex (Kate Winslet), in late December, are both stuck in an airport in Idaho in which all flights have been grounded due to an impending storm. They’re each desperate to leave, though: Ben, a brain surgeon, needs to get to Baltimore for a surgery he has scheduled for the morning; Alex, a photojournalist, needs to get to New York for … her wedding. So the accidental acquaintances hatch a plan: They’ll charter a flight to Denver and catch connections from there. Over at a private hangar, they enlist the help of Walter (Beau Bridges) and his trusty Piper: For $800, they’ll pass over the mountains and into their respective futures.