Nature is a formidable adversary. All throughout recorded history, and likely before, man has tried to conquer the harshest of frontiers in the quest for discovery and adventure. These journeys have yielded great tales of men and women overcoming impossible odds. From the deepest corners of our planet to places unfit for humans, a need to explore is never quenched. It’s with this in mind that director Baltasar Kormákur showcases Everest.
Taking place in spring 1996, Everest follows paid expeditions vie for the mountain’s summit and the preparations they take. Of the teams, the story focuses mainly on Adventure Consultants, the first company to sell trips up the peak. Led by veteran Everest climber Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), the motley crew includes a writer, a purebred Texan, and a Japanese woman who already climbed the six other highest peaks.
The enterprise starts off textbook. Though a few small hiccups occur, it appears to be a fairly simple ascension. As the trek unfolds, problems and storms threaten the summit push. What follows becomes a horrific true story of survival.
The story of the May 1996 tragedy has multiple books on the subject. What the film Everest aims to do is to put the audience on the same trek. It allows the viewer to be included in every element of the climb. Despite gorgeous shots and intense cinematography throughout, the movie succeeds on the strength of the characters. By drawing from a wealth of material, each actor is able to ground his or her respective role, becoming relatable. By setting up the dynamic feat and spending time exploring this world, the film relinquishes the title of an action feature. This is a drama and a tragedy at its core, but a powerful one that is a palpable experience.
Touching and traumatic, Everest is a strong portrait of survivor and the human spirit. From beginning to end credits, it holds on tight and increases the tension without any sign of slowing. Recommended true story adaptation in a sea of sequels. 3.5 out of 5 stars.