He previously helmed the decent Contraband and the nearly decent 2 Guns, but with Everest he nearly starts approaching subtlety.
In this film’s time of 1996, with the advent of improved climbing guidance, technology, and safety, conquering Mount Everest had become an expensive commercial business bordering on a high-end tourist attraction.
As with the weakest mountain climbers, “Everest” oversteps its bounds, presenting us with so many people there’s no hope of developing a single one of them in a tight two-hour span. And Kormakur and company don’t stop with the climbers, we’re also introduced to the wives of Rob Hall (Keira Knightley) and Beck Weathers (Wright).
Between the 10th and 11th of May, two commissioning camps on Mount Everest, led by the expedition leaders, New Zealander Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and American Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal), give paying clients the opportunity to climb the summit of Mount Everest, a very unsafe expedition.
Hall’s radio conversation with base camp manager Helen Milton (Emily Watson) helped viewers keep track of which stage of the climb they were at and where each climber was. “Avatar” star Sam Worthington is fellow professional climber Guy Cotter observing events. A deep bench of actors filled with the likes of John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Naoko Mori, and Michael Kelly (as Jon Krakauer) are just a few of the people heading up the mountain for the doomed summit attempt. James Brolin and Jason Clarke headline this cast.
Everest does not try to explore the psychology of the men and women who throw themselves into these kinds of perilous situations, but it does provide a potent picture of what can happen when mere humans defy Mother Nature.
The thing about scaling a mountain is even if you reach the peak, you have to go back down – and by that point you’re exhausted, disoriented, struggling for breath and in many cases fending off snow blindness and frostbite and swelling of the brain, among other lovely side effects. Again, for those that know this story, the outcome is destined.
In many ways, “Everest” is a throwback to the grand old disaster films of the 1970s like “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Airport“.
Some very strong cinematography reveals the beauty and ferocity of Everest and the impossibility of the task faced by the characters. The film treats the dead as victims of a massive and implacable lethality that trying to climb a mountain inherently brings.
In an interview with Variety magazine, Kormákur said, “The more that we make the Marvel studio films fantastic for what they are, the more we need to contradict that and make films that feel real”. By skipping the dramatization and roller coaster route, the challenge level of “Everest” is low. What Nicholson and Beaufoy’s screenplay does so well is focus on adding emotion and depth to the film within its characters, instead of excessively dramatizing the events that happened. For some, a clean-cut documentary will do the trick rather than the shorthand-written movie. Half of the audience will be the cautious people, likely right in line with Lesson #1. While the vistas and mountain climbing sequences in the film are breathtaking in 3-D IMAX, none of it would work without a deft hand with the characters and action. They will shake their head, wag their fingers, and be the living embodiment of all those “NOPE” memes you see on social media.