121 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
Very few of us have the skill, the will or the financial wherewithal to tackle Earth’s tallest peak.
After watching “Everest,” though, don’t be surprised if you feel as if you’ve been to the top of the world, where the human form is ill-prepared to survive at the cruising altitude of a 747.
Based on the disastrous day in 1996 when Mount Everest claimed the lives of eight climbers — the same tragedy described in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book “Into Thin Air” and a 1998 IMAX documentary — the film eschews Hollywood hokum for a [hugely] realistic depiction of what happened.
The first hour focuses on New Zealander Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), operator of a commercial guide service, as over a month he prepares a party of clients for an expedition up the mountain.
Most of the customers are like Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a Texas businessman with pockets deep enough to handle the $65,000 Hall charges for a climb. They’re middle-aged, wealthy men of commerce determined to push themselves to the limit before age interferes.
An exception is Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a working-class guy who failed to reach the summit on an earlier attempt. This will be his last chance … and Hall has given him a discount so that he can afford this climb.
The film’s second hour is the ascent itself, which found most of the party going all the way up, only to be ravaged by a fierce storm on the way down.
Written by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy and directed by Baltasar Kormakur, “Everest” features a star-heavy cast.
Among the familiar faces behind bushy beards are Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer, aka “Mr. Mountain Madness,” a rival guide who joins forces with Hall because the mountain is so crowded with 20 expeditions. Michael Kelly plays Krakauer, the well-known outdoor writer who was a member of the team. Sam Worthington is a fellow climber helpless to effect a rescue.