REVIEW: 6 Below – Miracle on the Mountain (2017)

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The story of hockey player Eric LeMarque’s six-day mountainous journey is revealed in this inspirational biopic from the director of Act of Valor and Need for Speed.

Eric LeMarque was once a promising hockey player. However, his addiction for crystal meth had caused a major car accident. As a result, he is due in court in a week and his mother, grown tired of his addiction, has cut him off. Deciding to head off into a winter resort, Eric makes the decision to go up to the mountain to enjoy a day of snowboarding to clear his mind. Little does he know that this will be the day his life will change forever.

When the park rangers learn they will be shutting down the slopes early due to a major snowstorm coming, Eric doesn’t get wind of the news and finds himself boarding in an unsanctioned area. He soon finds himself lost in the wilderness. Remembering flashbacks of his past, including his father’s harsh treatment of him, the first time he began his drug habit, and his attempt to make it on the hockey field, Eric soon learns he must confront his demons if he plans to survive. Meanwhile, when his mother learns Eric missed his court date, she intends to find him with the help of the park rangers.

For those who may not have heard the story, in February 2004, Eric LeMarque was found on a mountaintop, having survived six days alone on the wintry mountains of California. He was a very lucky man whose determination led to his ultimate survival. Despite losing both of his legs to frostbite, he has become a man who not only survived, but in the midst of everything, turned his life around in a positive manner. He wrote the book “Crystal Clear” with Devin Seay, which is the basis for this biopic from Scott Waugh, a former stuntman who became a well-known filmmaker after his directorial debut, Act of Valor, featured real-life active Marines and the film adaptation of the video game Need for Speed.

In the pivotal role of Eric is Josh Hartnett, who also serves as a producer on the film. Hartnett brings out one of his best performances in the tale of LeMarque, who is seen at the beginning of the film, relishing in his past with Mira Sorvino playing his mother as in the first of many flashbacks cuts Eric off after his car accident from his doing crystal meth. The flashbacks offer the viewer a glimpse into the hardships Eric has endured in his life, which feature an excellent performance from young Kale Brady Culley as the younger Eric and Jason Cottle as Eric’s no-nonsense hockey coach dad, who if Eric has learned anything from him despite his harsh nature, that it is not to quit.

Waugh’s experience as a stuntman perhaps comes into play in terms of how to shoot action as the scenes involving Eric snowboarding features some exhilarating cinematography much like the way Mike Marvin brought some awesome ski sequences to life in 1980’s films Hot Dog…the Movie and Better Off Dead… The film truly brings us to Eric’s journey as he endures everything from falling into an icy lake, facing a threat from wolves, and finding by creating snow trenches. Look out for an appearance by the real Eric LeMarque himself through both archival footage as well as a pivotal scene that caps the journey for this inspirational figure.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is truly an inspirational film about a man who faced all obstacles with his “no-quit” attitude and successfully changed in the process, all driven by Josh Hartnett’s excellent performance in the pivotal role of Eric LeMarque.

WFG RATING: B+

Momentum Pictures presents a Tucker Tooley Entertainment and October Sky Films production in association with Sonar Entertainment and Dune Entertainment. Director: Scott Waugh. Producers: Brad Pilz, Scott Waugh, Tucker Tooley, Josh Hartnett, and Simon Swart. Writer: Madison Turner; based on the book “Crystal Clear” by Eric LeMarque and Devin Seay. Cinematography: Michael Svitak. Editing: Vashi Nedomansky and Scott Waugh.

Cast: Josh Harnett, Mira Sorvino, Sarah Dumont, Kale Brady Culley, Jason Cottle, Austin R. Grant, Nathan Stevens, Marty McSorely, Sean Pilz, Vashi Nedomansky, Eric LeMarque.

Momentum Pictures will be releasing this film in select theaters on October 13.

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