Pride. Ego. Fear. Dignity.
These emotions make us do some crazy shit. They create something deep inside that drives a person to their limit, whether it’s mentally or physically, and immediately we find ourselves attempting the unthinkable. I cannot imagine this not being the case for the climbers who set out on an expedition to climb Everest: the majestically merciless beast of a mountain.
Everest is a relentless, unapologetic adventure that leaves your legs shaking while gasping for air. Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) is brilliant in his usage of space and scale. He provides awe-inspiring panorama views from heights unlike any other. Though his struggles in capturing the quiet, intimate moments of the climbers and the lives they have left behind cannot be overlooked. The three people you get to know the most are Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), and Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin).
Hall is the leader and, undoubtedly, the most experienced climber of the group. Everest is nothing new for him. He’s made a living out of getting to the top while his view never gets old. There’s no reason you shouldn’t feel that you’re in the best of hands with him. His wife (Keira Knightley) cannot help but worry, especially when he is going to become a father, and a particular scene they share together on the phone will overcome anyone with a beating heart. Hansen is the ultimate underdog; a mailman who has attempted this climb before and got oh so close. He’s back for redemption and a purpose with an entire school full of kids, with their own hopes and dreams, rooting for him back home. Weathers is not like Hall or Hansen. He is selfishly climbing for himself and no one else. This probably explains why his marriage to his wife (Robin Wright) is deteriorating with every step he takes on his ascent.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Worthington, and Emily Watson round out the impressive ensemble, but with too much talent on screen, Kormakur limits himself on the appropriate time needed to focus on each character. He is cursed with having to choose between the human element or the force of nature. Disappointingly, sacrifices were made leaving the real casualties of the film being an unvarnished premise with underutilized talent.
But when it’s all said and done, and you capture your breath, the performances from Clarke, Brolin, Watson, and Knightley will stay with you. Knightley pours with vehement while Watson conveys compassion while never succumbing to being too sentimental. And Clarke and Brolin bring the attitude and fight necessary to survive the impossible. We know who they are, what they stand for, and why they are hoping to make it back home. You sure as hell hope these two can prevail.
Everest is an epic that’s stirringly breathtaking and beautifully formulated. Kormakur knows who is boss, and it’s evident with his cameras flaunting God’s miraculous creation and it’s unpredictable imperilment. There’s no mistaking this grueling experience on an unforgiving mountain will give you everything you can handle. It’s absolutely guaranteed if you view it in all of its glory in IMAX 3D.
Brace yourself for a brutal showdown between man vs. nature.