On the back of The Desperate Hour Naomi Watts returns with another Lockdown special, Infinite Storm. This outing sees Watts as the Search and Rescue mountaineer Pam Bales charged with saving a peculiarly placed chap on the top of a mountain. Dressed in running shoes, shorts, a light rain coat and lacking any coherence or drive to get himself out of his predicament, Watts must escort “John” (Billy Howle) down from the mountain and through all the perils and elements of an incoming storm.
Initially, the premise is an interesting and exciting one, oddly it should be noted that this is based upon a true story. The true nature of the story keeps this from becoming a heart pounding tale of survival. Instead, landing on the dramas affecting the leads, their backstories and the fuel that brought them together. It becomes apparent, very quickly, that this isn’t an adventure like The Edge or The Grey. Instead the peril is the realism of the environment and the people are human beings, not superhuman heroes fighting against the odds to sell more popcorn.
There is something about Watts in the Winter, as it struggles to engage. There is a painful sense of personal reflection during the frequently frustrating events as Watts’ character continues to pull John from the mountain, refusing to give up. Different audience members would likely give up on trying to save John at different points throughout the storyline. Watching this with others I heard comments like “I’d leave him” and “I’d be out of there by now.” On a number of occasions I had to remind myself that if Pam gives up, John dies.
This is the essence of the story, the determination of Search and Rescue professionals. They do not have the choice of walking away, no matter how difficult the rescuee might be. In an interesting change of pace, the rescue only occupies the first two thirds of the film. The last third takes the time to explain the events thus far. Shedding light on Watts’ story and John’s reasons for being there and how the two supported each other thereafter.
One thing that can be relied upon is the continual influx of beautiful vistas. From the barren and harsh mountain tops, to the cold, muddy greys of the damp forests. The film makes full use of its incredible location.
In all, Infinite Storm will be a hard watch for many, there is a lot asked of the audience and whilst Watts is predictably flawless in the lead, the film as a whole feels a little lacklustre and would likely have been a better book. The film will hopefully draw a viewer’s attention to the story and inspire them to find out more about the incredible heroics of the Search and Rescue professionals, of whom this is just a day in the life of.