Disclaimer: This post was originally written for No Perfect Movie, but since the site has gone down, I’ve decided to transfer all my work onto this blog.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley
Release Date: 18th September, 2015 (UK) | 25th September, 2015 (US)
“Human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747… Our bodies will be literally dying. “
In an effort to deliver an IMAX experience like no other, Everest unites 2 Guns director Baltasar Kormákur with an all-star cast to tell the tale of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Veteran climbers Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) & Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) are in charge of two expeditions up toward the top of the world’s highest peak when they encounter a devastating blizzard, leaving them trapped and facing an epic struggle for survival.
William Nicholson & Simon Beaufoy handle script duties, cobbling together the story based on first-hand accounts of the events. Together, the pair do a fair job at adapting the tale for the big screen without sensationalising the plot or characters too much – and consequently nothing feels too stretched. On the other hand, their script lacks sufficient depth, forcing the actors themselves to elevate the material they’re given to work with.
It’s tough to categorize Everest into any genre. It’s a disaster flick unlike any other of late. It boasts all the visual spectacle of a summer blockbuster, and yet combines it with the emotional core of an awards-calibre biopic. Audiences can expect to be thrown through a roller-coaster of emotions, and though the final product isn’t quite as great as it could have been, it still undoubtedly makes for a thrilling experience.
“It hurts, it’s dangerous, it destroys relationships, it’s costing you all small fortune. C’mon, I gotta ask the question… why?”
Kormákur assembles an incredibly well balanced ensemble to populate his movie. Through the process of filming in physically challenging locations, it’s clear they developed a genuine bond, which shows in their chemistry with one another. The only issue is that due to the number of characters, each of them are afforded very little development. Naturally, talents like Gyllenhaal & Clarke still make the most out of what they’re given.
The former is outstanding, shining in a supporting role. Clarke, meanwhile, provides the emotional foundation of the film, proving himself as a great lead presence once again. Josh Brolin brings a brash confidence to his character, which works even better when juxtaposed next to John Hawkes‘s more humble and endearing ‘Doug’. Finally, Keira Knightley makes up for her limited screen time with a memorable supporting turn.
Direction & Tone
Baltasar Kormákur has achieved a feat of technical brilliance with this film. Exquisitely shot by DoP Salvatore Totino, with an emphasis on spectacle, it’s simply made for the big screen – go see it in IMAX if you can. Utilising a surprising amount of footage shot on location, Everest retains a raw and authentic feel that makes you feel as if you’re on the mountain yourself. Kormákur throws you headfirst into the relentless turmoil – amplifying your fear.
- When was the last time Gyllenhaal made a bad film? I can’t remember either…
- Accidental Love doesn’t count. As far as we’re all concerned, it never happened.
- Sam Worthington is best suited for supporting roles. No longer the guy Hollywood tried to shove down everyone’s throats, he’s quietly brilliant here.
- I cannot overstate how outstanding the entire cast was across the board. Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Elizabeth Debicki… they all did their bit.
- Two of my buddies are big on climbing. They’ve been asking me to join them for months. After this movie… I think I’ll pass.
Turbulent, tense and utterly gripping from start to finish, Everest succeeds thanks to some magnificent visual filmmaking and an incredibly talented ensemble cast.