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With: Jason Momoa, Cary Elwes, Anna Hutchison, Melora Walters, Haley Webb, Drew Roy, Shane Coffey, John Karna, Yulia Klass, Crawford Wilson, Steve Mouzakis, Patrick Sane, Nick Farnell
Written by: Abe Pogos, based on a story by Abe Pogos, Catherine Hill
Directed by: Richard Gray
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 106
Date: 12/09/2016

Sugar Mountain (2016)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Snow Blind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This ridiculous thriller contains just about the dumbest harebrained scheme ever invented for a movie, yet the filmmakers do not show any awareness of the absurdity; it's played dismayingly straight.

In Sugar Mountain, brothers Liam (Shane Coffey) and Miles (Drew Roy), and Miles' girlfriend Lauren (Haley Webb) are trying to run a boating business in Alaska, but have run on hard times. The reckless Miles cooks up a desperate plan; with help from his more knowledgable brother, they will stage Miles' disappearance in the wilderness, and when he returns, they can sell their story for a large amount of money.

Unfortunately, the local sheriff, Lauren's father, Jim Huxley (Cary Elwes) suspects something is up. Worse, it turns out that Miles has secretly racked up some gambling debts, and the muscular thug Joe Bright (Jason Momoa) has begun shoving people around, looking for retribution. Can the trio get out of this mess?

This all might have been excusable, given how reckless and short-sighted the Miles character is, but the Liam character is supposed to be smart, and supposed to know his way around the woods. The entire scheme just doesn't make any sense, and rudimentary mistakes are made.

Attempts to create a love triangle between the brothers, Lauren, and another female character also fall flat; they do seem like friends, but any other feelings are frustratingly opaque. Hardly anyone is even likable. The normally charming Cary Elwes plays a nasty, vindictive sheriff, and Jason Momoa is an excessively violent thug who seems more animal than man. Director Richard Gray does use the Alaska settings well, and despite some uneven moments, Sugar Mountain is technically fine. But storywise, it leaves us cold.

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