Cliffhanger is a 1993 American action film directed by Renny Harlin and starring Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow. Stallone plays a mountain climber, who becomes embroiled in a failed heist set in a U.S. Treasury plane flying through the Rocky Mountains. The film was a major box office success, earning more than $250 million worldwide.
In the opening scene, hotshot mountain climber and rescue worker Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) meets with his friends Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) and Jessie Deighan (Janine Turner) on a narrow peak in the Rocky Mountains. While moving from one mountaintop to a helicopter via a steel cable, Hal’s girlfriend Sarah’s (Michelle Joyner) harness breaks and she is left dangling over a deep chasm. While the others frantically come up with a solution, Gabe straps himself in and goes out to save Sarah, but is unsuccessful and she falls to her death at the bottom of a mountain.
Eight months later, Gabe returns to town for the first time since Sarah’s funeral. Overcome with guilt over having lost Sarah, Gabe has returned only to pack his remaining possessions to leave permanently. However, a radio distress call comes in to the local rescue center where Hal and Jessie still work. Hal heads off to find the stranded climbers while Jessie pleads with Gabe to join Hal’s rescue attempt. Battling his inner demons, Gabe meets Hal on the mountain, where the latter, still angry with Gabe for being unsuccessful at saving Sarah, lashes out and almost throws Gabe off the cliff.
The rescue turns out to be a fake; the two climbers are taken prisoner by ruthless thieves led by Eric Qualen (John Lithgow), who seeks to recover three suitcases containing $100 million in uncirculated US currency belonging to the United States Department of the Treasury. With the aid of turncoat Treasury agent Richard Travers (Rex Linn), Qualen and his associates attempt to steal the suitcases via a daring air-to-air transfer, but the transfer is foiled and the three suitcases are lost among the mountains. The thieves’ plane loses power during the attempt and crashes. The suitcases holding the money have beacon locators, but the thieves need expert help locating them in the mountainous terrain, thus prompting them to summon the unwitting Gabe and Hal to their aid.
Summary via Wikipedia.