Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Michael Kelly
Plot: Based on the true story of the expedition up Mt. Everest in 1996 that killed eight people.
Review: In 1996, an expedition to climb Mt. Everest ended in disaster after a storm caused several climbers to be stranded and eventually killed by the extreme cold and lack of oxygen. This film tells that story.
The film's main character is Rob Hall, an experienced climber who runs Adventure Consultants, an outfit that guides climbers to the peak of Mt. Everest. Rob takes on the task of bringing among others; Beck Weathers, a wealthy man from Texas, Doug Hansen, a mailman who's never reached the top of Mt. Everest, Yasuko Namba, a Japanese woman who has one final peak out of the seven peaks to conquer, and Jon Krakauer, a journalist whom Rob hopes will put a good word in about him. Also going up the mountain is Rob's friendly rival Scott Fischer and his clients. They all go up there, then unexpected delays causes the group to run into weather trouble, and then casualties start to occur.
If you're looking for an action thriller like Vertical Limit, you're not going to get it here. Director Baltasar Kormakur focuses on the men and women who went up the mountain on that fateful day, their preparations, the progress of their climb and everything that went wrong that day. There's also a subplot on Rob, whose pregnant wife Jan is waiting for him to come home before their daughter is born. Basically, Kormakur's film is a historical and dramatic account of the events on May 10th 1996. To his credit, the film is perfectly paced and gorgeously shot. Every lead character gets their due time on screen, and every shot of the mountain is just beautiful. You can say that the idea of something so breathtaking can also be deadly at the same time is presented well by Kormakur.
The cast all perform splendidly, with Jason Clarke doing a fine job leading the way as Rob Hall. I also enjoyed Josh Brolin and John Hawkes' performances as Beck and Doug respectively. Emily Watson is great as usual in the role of Helen, the Everest base camp manager, while Keira Knightley and Robin Wright make do with their limited screen time as Rob and Beck's wives respectively. Jake Gyllenhaal is also quite underused here as Scott, playing him as slightly more free spirited than the serious Rob. But to be fair, every actor did their job very well, with no one person outshining the other.
I think the film's tagline of this being an "incredible true story" is a bit misleading though. The only incredible thing about this story is the mountain itself. This isn't a story about miracles or heroism, it's a story about tragedy, with no sensational angles to it. This makes Everest more in common with a film like The Impossible, instead of say, Gravity. That being said, I liked how the film turned out overall.
Everest is a solid disaster flick that centres on the drama and not the visual effects, though there's quite a lot of the latter here. It's definitely worth checking out. (8/10)