A race against time to the top of the world, terrorists putting the lives of millions at risk, saber-rattling from all corners of the globe, and a looming high-tech disaster of epic proportions: all of this combined to spur my interest in this film. Subzero didn't play out quite as I expected it to, but overall it was definitely an enjoyable action thriller. I expected the bulk of the film to consist of our heroes' arduous climb to the top of K2 (on the border of China and Pakistan), and I was a little disappointed in how easy Subzero made the whole climb look - but, still, there's plenty of action, intrigue, and dizzying danger along the way, and the whole thing's capped by a pretty good ending.
The setup is a little bit of a stretch. Apparently, the UN secretly launched twelve satellites to guard against rogue missile attacks with EMP weapons. As you may already know (and certainly the Iranians know), an EMP pulse destroys everything electrical in a large vicinity; those who aren't killed by all the explosions and fires are basically thrown back in time a couple of hundred years in the long-term absence of any real technology. There's a trigger mechanism for these EMP satellites in the form of a cube, and for some reason the magic cube is housed in a minimal-security research station in Siberia (yeah, like the US is going to go along with that). Terrorists easily assault the place, steal the cube, and take off in a cargo plane - only to be shot down by a Russian missile. Miraculously, the cube survives intact - but, unfortunately, it comes to rest near the summit of K2. More unfortunately, it had already been activated, and now the Americans and Russians have to get to it and deactivate it within 72 hours or else twelve major cities across the globe are going to be destroyed.
That's where John Deckert (Costas Mandylor) and his old team of expert mountain climbers come in. Their government could not give them a more formidable challenge: climb to the top of K2 at the worst possible time of the year. K2, of course, is the second tallest mountain on the Earth (not counting underwater mountains); falling short of Mt. Everest by well under 1000 meters. As if the mountain isn't enough, the bad guys have a few more tricks up their sleeves, as well.
When the movie started, I almost questioned my decision to watch it. The first scene features a vertical mountain climb, and - whether the camera shots were real or not - this acrophobic viewer got the heebie jeebies just looking at that incredible death drop waiting for these crazy mountain climbers. I expected much more of the same when we got to the K2 climb. The climbers seemed pretty lackadaisical about the whole thing, though; they kept talking about how much time they had left, but they didn't really get going until the last few hours. Sure, we see some avalanche action, but the actual K2 climb features almost no vertical climbs at all; it's basically just people walking up a snowy hill. There was also very little effort made to simulate the subzero conditions - these folks should have been freezing their woo-woos off, but there was no sign of cold fatigue, frostbite, or even icicle goatees to be seen. The filmmakers did pull off a pretty good ending once the gang reached the top, though.
I really liked this movie. The acting was good, the special effects (with a few exceptions) were above average, and the story had legs. Even the subplots were relevant to the heart of the story. Even if you're as terrified of heights as I am, it's hard not to come away with positive feelings about this motion picture.