Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Sam Worthington, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Keira Knightley.
Written by: William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy
Running Time: 121 mins
Release date: 18th September 2015
The fascination with trying to conquer Everest has led to many trying and many lives lost. So in 1992, instead of just professional climbers taking on the world’s highest mountain, amateur climbers were given the opportunity when a company offered the chance, led by seasoned veteran, Rob Hall. This led to other similar companies jumping on the bandwagon and offering the same experience. This nail-biting adventure, based on true events, shows what can happen when a mountain gets over crowded and bites back.
Rob Hall and his team are planning to lead a new group of climbers up the mountain. Included in the party is a woman who has climbed 6 of the 7 biggest mountains, Everest being the last, a Texan who hasn’t told his wife and a postman who has tried before but failed. With the mountain getting more crowded, Rob teams up with fellow climber, Scott Fischer, to take up two teams, when they discover that ladders along the way are unsafe, ropes need replacing and they both only have a small window to achieve the climb. With a storm coming in, they have to stay on track and on time.
The dangers and perils of tackling a mountain can sometimes to difficult to translate onto the screen but director Baltasar Kormakur has managed to achieve this. Allowing plenty of time for the audience to get to know its main protagonists, the film never rushes, helping to build up the tension of what will eventually be a doomed expedition. Having no knowledge of the story before seeing the film helps with that tension, as the climbers head up the mammoth mountain, some never to return.
You get a sense of what the climbers face as the camera swoops over the ledges, giving us some idea of the depth that the abyss below has to offer. This is one of the rare occasions where 3D actually works. Seeing the climbers suspended over gaping holes as they crawl over ladders allows us to share the distance they face underneath them.
The film plays out like a disaster movie. Each character is drawn out with a back story in order for us to really emote with them. So we see Rob, a man who definitely knows his business, with a pregnant wife at home. Scott, a friend of Rob yet now a competitor, with a much more laid-back approach to life. And so on.
What helps is the film is full of top quality actors who, like the characters they portray, know their craft extremely well. Led by Jason Clarke, who has been involved in blockbusters Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes as well as the disastrous Terminator: Genesys, here allowing to prove his strength as an actor, with a sympathetic Rob who you would trust with your life. A hard thing to convey, yet he manages it. Jake Gyllenhaal, in a smaller role as Scott, delivers another spot-on performance, while Emily Watson, Josh Brolin and Keira Knightley are all solid. Yet the star is the mountain. It stands proudly tempting climbers to conquer its peak, while hiding the fact that at any point it can kill.
Everest is a classy affair that is brimming is excitement, emotion and on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment. It grips from the very start and refuses to let go, offering surprises and shocks constantly. In a year full of blockbusters that have failed to deliver, this does in droves. It’s a stunning piece of work that comes highly recommended.