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Review: Survival tale ‘6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain’ never manages to heat up

Josh Hartnett in the movie "6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain."
(Alfredo Chocano / Momentum Pictures)

Making like James Franco in “127 Hours,” Josh Hartnett fights for his life in the foreboding Sierra Nevadas in “6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain,” a fittingly chilly but dramatically glacial survival thriller.

Based on the real-life 2004 experience of former pro-hockey player Eric LeMarque, whose eight-day ordeal was recounted in his faith-based novel, “Crystal Clear,” the film begins with Hartnett’s LeMarque already battling a stubborn crystal meth addiction when he decides to take his snowboard out to an unsanctioned, isolated stretch of Mammoth Mountain.

It doesn’t take long before he’s stranded in a fierce snowstorm and, armed with only an out-of-service flip-phone, an MP3 player, a layer of light clothing and a few pieces of gum, finds himself facing the elements like one of his personal demons.

While Harnett’s a real trooper and stuntman-turned-filmmaker Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”) establishes an effectively bone-chilling milieu heightened by an immersive sound design that keeps those whipping winds and howling wolves in uncomfortably close proximity, the embellishments fail to create crucial suspense.

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In the absence of a Danny Boyle, whose visually kinetic style made “127 Hours” a true force with which to be reckoned, “6 Below” ultimately can’t rise above the swelling inspirational score or the flat adaptation by Madison Turner, which mechanically pivots between the mountaintop and flashbacks from LeMarque’s dysfunctional past.

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‘6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain’

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including drug addiction, some disturbing images and brief partial nudity.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Los Feliz 3 Cinemas, Los Feliz. Also on VOD.

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