Sylvester Stallone Is Losing One Of His Most Thrilling Movies On Netflix

This is a very elevated movie.

By Matthew Creith | Published

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Actor Sylvester Stallone has had a rocky career in entertainment, pun intended. The performer most likely best known for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa in the Rocky series of films has seen great strength in front of and behind the camera. However, some devastatingly bad choices in the 1980s seemed to put Stallone’s film career in limbo, only to bounce back in recent years with successful turns in Creed and The Expendables franchise. He can next be seen in the television series Tulsa King alongside Andrea Savage and Max Casella, which premieres this upcoming November. But, one of Stallone’s most thrilling movies has made its way to Netflix, although it appears the streamer may be removing the title from its platform soon.

According to What’s on Netflix, Sylvester Stallone’s epic Cliffhanger will be leaving Netflix on September 1st. The film first debuted in theaters in 1993, with a screenplay by Stallone and Michael France of Fantastic Four fame. Directed by Renny Harlin, Cliffhanger starred Stallone as Gabe Walker, who audiences first meet as a rescue ranger and mountain climber who was unsuccessful at saving his best friend Hal’s girlfriend Sarah, who plummeted to her death while climbing the Colorado Rockies. Distraught and feeling guilty over not being able to save his friend’s girlfriend, Gabe quits his position as a ranger and retreats into a solitary existence. About a year later, Gabe and Hal are thrust into a plot by British military operative Eric Qualen, who attempts a heist of a U.S. Treasury plane flying carrying $100 million through their territory of the Rocky Mountains. The heist is not successful, and it is a race against time with a classic good guys versus bad guys scenario on top of one of the country’s highest mountains.

Sylvester Stallone and Janine Turner in Cliffhanger (1993)

Starring alongside Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger is an ensemble group of actors that have become infamous since the film’s premiere. Michael Rooker portrayed Hal Tucker, the grieving and often despondent best friend to Stallone’s Gabe. Rooker has become well known to audiences through his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Guardians of the Galaxy as Yondu Udonta, the often combative adoptive father to Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. But, it is actor John Lithgow’s performance as Eric Qualen, the psychotic leader of the gang of thieves that marks Cliffhanger’s true antagonist storyline. Much like Alan Rickman’s role in Die Hard, Lithgow gives everything he has to a menacing character opposite Stallone’s stern demeanor. Lithgow is famous for performances on the stage and small screen, particularly his Primetime Emmy Award winning roles on 3rd Rock From the Sun and Dexter. His film roles have included Terms of Endearment, Footloose, and the recent Bombshell.

Cliffhanger began a bit of a career renaissance for Sylvester Stallone, who had become synonymous with his Rocky Balboa and John Rambo personas. Considered a financial success at the time, Cliffhanger went on to gross $255 million at the box office against a budget of $70 million. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993 at a time that similar films like K2 were flooding the theaters.

sylvester stallone
Janine Turner and Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger (1993)

But, Cliffhanger seemed to resonate well with critics and audiences alike, who stormed the theaters to watch Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow battle it out high above civilization. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks Cliffhanger with a 67% on its Tomatometer based on 55 critics’ reviews, while the Audience Score sits at 52% based on over 100,000 ratings from users to the site. More impressively, the film reviewed on Metacritic currently holds strong with a Metascore of 60 based on 16 critic ratings, but a User Score of 8.2 based on 172 user ratings. This typically denotes universal acclaim for the movie from an audience perspective.

While Cliffhanger may not be Sylvester Stallone’s most famous project to date, it is one of the nostalgic movies on his resume that can be counted on for thrills and high altitude chills. The scene in the beginning of the film where Gabe looses his grip and Sarah falls to her death has been parodied in movies like Spy Hard and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. The flick has entered the zeitgeist of popular culture and is worth the watch before Netflix removes it from its platform this week.