Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: William Nicholson (screenplay), Simon Beaufoy (screenplay)
Stars: Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright
The movie “Everest” is based on the true story of two commercial expeditions starting their final ascent towards the summit of Mount Everest. Both groups endure fierce winds and freezing temperatures in a battle to survive against the odds. The story begins on May 10th, 1996 and follows the story of New Zealand’s Robert “Rob” Edwin Hall (Jason Clarke) together with Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who team up both expeditions to conquer Mount Everest.
With a strong cast ensemble the performances in this movie were excellent and brilliantly chosen. The main focus is on Clarke’s portrayal of Rob, Brolin’s Beck Weathers and Gyllenhaal’s Scott Fischer. Although the early signs in this movie suggested that Edwin Hall and Fischer are rivals it quickly settles into a survival unit and the characters begin to pull together in reaching their goal safely. “Everest” to me isn’t exactly an action movie and more drama based with stunning visuals. To me this is Jason Clarke’s best performance to date and his scenes with his onscreen wife Jan (Keira Knightley) add emotional pull to the scenario. Not playing second fiddle is Josh Brolin who along with Clarke had the bigger roles and his portrayal of Beck Weathers is something somewhat emotional and tragic by the end of the movie. Brolin gives his usual solid performance in “Everest” and although the portrayal at times is a little arrogant towards Clarke’s Edwin Hall adds to the relationship they have on the mountain.
Surprisingly Knightley, Worthington, Watson have limited screen time but don’t get me wrong all have an important roles in the movie. Keira Knightley as Jan is expecting their first child and is in some crucial and heartbreaking scenes. Worthington (Guy Cotter) in a supporting role along with Watson (Helen Wilton) are the base camp team who are basically what you would call expedition characters who set up the scenarios that lie ahead. Both are involved in key scenes and take the audience on the journey in realising the seriousness of the situation the group find themselves in.
The character of Doug (John Hawkes) and Yasuko (Naoko Mori), with Doug being a amateur climber who strives to make his kids proud of him by reaching the summit only provides emotional baggage for Edwin Hall who feels responsible in making sure his friend reaches his goal. That part of the movie didn’t sit well with me. I know the most experienced climbers cannot predict freak weather conditions but when Doug is barely breathing and can barely walk, was it wise to let your emotions interfere with your knowledge and experience of how dangerous the task of reaching Everest is? Don’t get me wrong i’m not knocking the story at this point but it came off a little to “Hollywoody” for me. One thing it did show I guess was what a good guy with good intentions Edwin Hall was. Yasuko finally completing the seven summits and proudly poked a Japanese flag at the top. Naoko Mori didn’t really have much to do in the movie….well apart from climb a mountain I guess but wasn’t that memorable. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Scott Fischer wasnt explored enough within the movie and like most of the first half of the movie was introduced and came off a little bitter towards Rob. This is probably the least used I have seen Gyllenhaal in anything to date and didn’t really do much to be honest for a main character.
Full credit to Salvatore Totino (Cinematography) From what I have read *Spoiler* the actual peak of Everest was in a sound stage in Pinewood and I must say I was very impressed with the effects in this movie to convince the audience of believing the characters where actually there. The visuals and the choice of direction (Baltasar Kormákur) go hand in hand in this production and some of the views were beautifully shot and the score mix by Peter Fuchs adds a haunting quality to those visuals
Everest doesn’t disappoint. The movie is emotional and dramatic and with a fantastic cast it was always going to be a watchable and enjoyable movie. The Character development was cleverly done within the first half of the movie leading us to care for the characters and concern ourselves with their safety. Admittedly I wasn’t aware of this true story and I’m glad I didn’t research this before I saw the climatic end as this added to the emotion and sadness of those final scenes. If you haven’t watch “Everest” yet I recommend giving it a go.