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Review: Beautiful landscapes are about all that mindless thriller ‘Sugar Mountain’ has going for it

Drew Roy in the movie "Sugar Mountain."
(JonGunnar Gylfason / Vertical Entertainment)

Pretty but oh-so-dumb, “Sugar Mountain” is the cinematic equivalent of a himbo. The would-be thriller takes full advantage of its Alaskan setting, with John Garrett’s cinematography featuring the state’s forests and mountain peaks in all their glory. However, the script from Abe Pogos is all tell and no show, packed full of unnecessary characters and diversions with no sense of how the world works. It grasps for suspense, but each attempt fails to invest the audience in the on-screen drama.

Directed by Richard Gray, the film wastes no time establishing its characters before it reveals their grand plan for deception less than 10 minutes in. Brothers Miles (Drew Roy) and Liam (Shane Coffey) find their fishing boat impounded with no way to make money. The pair’s get-rich-quick scheme involves Miles getting lost on the titular mountain. He’ll survive almost two weeks, and then he’ll sell his story when he returns.

Unsurprisingly, their plot doesn’t go as planned, with complications arising in the form of Miles’ girlfriend (Haley Webb), her police chief father (Cary Elwes) and an angry local (Jason Momoa, star of the “Conan the Barbarian” remake and the upcoming “Aquaman”).

In addition to its fine camerawork, “Sugar Mountain” features a strong, string-driven score from Alies Sluiter, but the film is an unenjoyable, often laughable mess otherwise. Culminating in a ludicrous climax, the movie can’t be salvaged in the end, despite a magnetic turn from Momoa that’s full of physicality and a weirdly brutish charm.

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‘Sugar Mountain’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Playing: Vintage Los Feliz Theatre, Los Angeles

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