A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
“Never Let Go” is the tagline on posters for this movie, based on the true story of an exceedingly ill-fated trek up the title mountain in 1996. “What The Hell Are You All Doing Up There In The First Place?” might be a more apropos. The transformation of massively risky mountain-climbing, as an activity exclusively for scientists and highly-trained explorers to an adventure-tourism endurance test for the rich and obsessive, gets taken care of here in a series of three title texts at the beginning of the movie, starting with the ostensible conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary’s team. Beginning with some tantalizing/troubling glimpses of the heedless and colonialist aspects of adventure tourism culture, "Everest" then gets down to business. This movie, scripted by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy and directed, with meticulous regard for the elements and action, by Iceland-born filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, is a detailed and realistic depiction of climbers—of various experiences—facing the worst possible conditions, at heights and climates that seem designed to shut a human body down.
Jason Clarke’s Rob Hall is an experienced climber and the head of a company called Adventure Consulting. He’s a good-hearted bloke who’s got a devoted team and a relatively diverse clientele. The climbers putting out big bucks (or, in some cases, as it happens not; Hall, we learn at one point, is even more good-hearted than he appears) for a spring jaunt up Everest include cocky Texas businessman Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), good-natured workingman Doug Hansen, and very game Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) a petite powerhouse who’s topped six of the so-called Seven Summits and now wants Nepal’s Everest, the highest of the bunch. The conditions at base camp are hectic and slightly tense. A star journalist, Jon Krakauer, is part of Hall’s expedition, which has aroused the envy of a Hall's pal Scott who’s now a rival climb organizer (played Jake Gyllenhaal, portraying the more hippie-ish side of the climbing gestalt). There are scheduling issues and various manifestations of pissiness between the teams that go up the mountains and prep climbing tools for their clients. Clearly, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Particularly if the weather turns bad.
There’s a resemblance here to both the story and the movie adaptation of the story told in “The Perfect Storm.” The characters involved are making a good faith effort—but good faith efforts by humans can only go so far. “Nature always has the last word,” one character observes early on. As the movie expertly depicts freezing conditions, approaching and full-blown storms, mini-avalanches hitting at just the wrong place and just the wrong time, and more, the movie provides an object lesson with respect to that adage.
As much as "Everest" trades in a kind of authenticity, it also trucks in the most banal of disaster movie clichés; for instance, one of the principal characters in the trek is leaving behind a pregnant wife. While this part of the story is as true as any other, the dialogue between the characters at the outset: “You better be back for the birth, [Full Character Name];” “You try and stop me,” practically screeches to the audience, “Start worrying about this guy NOW.”
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
Meryl Streep and other awards recipients shared their thoughts on an America under Donald Trump during last night's G...
A review of NBC's "Emerald City," premiering January 6th.