Icelandic Director Baltasar Kormakur who previously helmed the Mark Wahlberg vehicles Contraband and 2 Guns, has a penchant for framing a story where male heroes find themselves in peril. Audiences who know little about the real life story will be richly rewarded with this impressively mounted based on true story about a climbing expedition that goes wrong at 29,000 feet on Mount Everest.
The film efficiently details the assent to the top of the mountain. Like all decent disaster films, the characters are introduced, including the leader, Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), Beck (Brolin), Doug (John Hawkes), Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and the enigmatic Scott Fischer (Gyllenhaal). Knightley and Wright are the wives left at home, whilst their husbands attempt to conquer the mountain. Emily Watson is the base camp supervisor, who is left powerless to prevent the unfolding tragedy. The question remains who will survive and who will perish?
As the film opens it’s quite clear that Everest in 1996, has been reduced to an overcrowded tourist hotspot. The swarms of climbing start-ups are clambering for business and be the first to reach the summit before the weather turns ugly. Feature articles in the major magazines will help promote the business and drive customers. Climbing Everest has almost become commonplace and it is in this scenario we find the expeditions start taking shortcuts. Oxygen tanks are left empty and decisions are made that put peoples lives at risk. The final ascent see the climbers experience trouble, at times its difficult to recognise the characters amidst the awful weather and hardship they have to endure. At one stage I mistook Beck for Fischer and vice versa.
Everest is an extremely well made recreation of the events of April/May1996. Jason Clarke is terrific as the strong, resourceful leader and the ensemble cast is uniformly strong. The 3D visuals deserve to be seen on the big screen. William Nicholson (Gladiator) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) structure a multi-layered, powerful narrative.