2 Guns helmsman Baltasar Kormákur returns to directorial duties with disaster epic, Everest. Scripted by acclaimed writers William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy, and featuring an impressive cast that includes Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley and Emily Watson, the film depicts the real life events of the 1996 Mount Everest tragedy which saw eight people lose their lives after a strong snow storm hit the mountain.
Experienced mountaineer Rob Hall (Clarke) hopes to lead a gang of adrenaline junkies, including Josh Brolin’s Beck Weathers and journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), to the summit of Everest. Clarke, the head of Adventure Consultants – a company who head up large scale expeditions – is a five-time summiter of the world’s largest mountain. Without climbing partner and expectant wife, Jan (Knightley), the New Zealander must navigate his team up an increasingly busy Everest while the unpredictable Himalayan weather allows them.
A 3D film that actually feels worthy of donning the silly glasses; Everest is an impressively orchestrated cinematic experience that delivers big on both spectacle and substance. We’re taken through the ringer both physically and emotionally: a bold, engrossing and extremely intense ride which makes you feel like you’re with Clarke, Brolin, Gyllenhaal and co. all the way as they battle the elements one hard-fought step at a time.
Yet Kormákur’s spectacle is about more than just the climb, it’s about the bureaucracy of the mountain. By 1996 Everest had changed; it had gone from being a rare expedition for the most talented of climbers to a commercial rendezvous – a revolution led by Rob Hall and his Adventure Consultants team – for the thrill seeking and the rich.
The events of that fatal trip have been well documented, yet Nicholson and Beaufoy subtly intertwine the ideas and notions of what went wrong that day (weather conditions, timing issues and competition on the mountain) without laying blame at any single person’s door, and manage to add an intimate level to it all – even amongst the rip-snorting set pieces. 29,000ft of rock, snow and danger lie in the background, yet the strength of its characters – Clarke and an impressive turn from Emily Watson as base camp manager, in particular – aren’t overshadowed by the Himalayan killer which lies in their wake.
Other than a rather over-played finale involving an emergency rescue which felt like it was one slow-mo scene away from being something out of a 1980s straight-to-video action cheese-fest, this awe-inspiring feature is one of the best watches of 2015 to date. An awesome musical score from Dario Marianelli ramps up the intensity factor even further as Kormákur’s Everest brings together great looking, heart pounding climbing action with a soulful, and at times heartbreaking, backbone.