In The Edge a middle-aged billionaire (Hopkins) and a fashion photographer (Baldwin) who may or may not be canoodling with the older man's wife (Elle Macpherson) are lost in the wintry Alaskan wilderness. Hopkins, a bookworm whose omnivorous reading has made him a repository of all sorts of useful effluvium, whips up a makeshift compass with a paper clip by straightening it out, rubbing it on his sleeve to magnetize it and setting the wire afloat on a leaf in a puddle. It points north, and off the men go. For each man, however, finding his moral compass proves more difficult in this half-baked, albeit fully frozen, thriller.
The Edge, written by David Mamet and directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors), is filled with much macho posturing as it pits Hopkins against Baldwin and both men against a very hungry bear. Half the time, the movie plays like a rousing adventure film and the other half like a down-filled Hemingway parody. On the plus side, both Hopkins, more restrained here than in such scenery-chewing outings as Surviving Picasso and Legends of the Fall, and Baldwin turn in solid performances and seem to relish playing off each other. What's more, attentive viewers will learn how to build a squirrel trap, construct a fishing line from yarn and a watch fob and navigate by starlight. (R)