I had an eye on Everest, which I witnessed recently. I had secret hopes that it would be something akin to Alive, a 1993 movie where people stuck in the frozen wilderness had to fry the bodies of their own pals to stay alive. When I caught the trailer and premise for this for the first time, I hoped for a little but more grit, hell and willpower than the final product.. Maybe expecting too much gruesomeness. You could say there is a fine line between survival thriller and disaster drama. I think that Everest falls into the latter category.
In Everest, team leader and mountaineer Jason Clarke leads a band of international adventerers and status seekers, Josh Brolin among them, to the peak of Everest, a rock that obviously needs no introduction. Jake Gyllenhaal, playing the easy going American of the pack, is doing the same thing, leading his own group. When a freak storm interrupts things, both men decide to pull their resources and training to save as many lives as possible and descend the mountain safely. The movie is not set in the present day but rather 1996 and if you missed the intro narrative covering that, then the indicators will come in the form of 1990’s songs playing in the background.
Maybe that in itself is an indicator that Everest is not a cut-throat movie. There are a lot of human comforts, there is not much sense of isolation. For instance in The Edge, a 1997 survival movie where Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin are lost in the wilderness, they had to make do with a lot less. Now obviously Everest is a more extreme locale, with professionals who are always going to be in radio contact with one another. But there is a lack of peril here to an extent. I also got a sense that the strong cast with Gyllenhaal, Brolin and other big names such as Sam Worthington were underdeveloped. Too many faces. Gyllenhaal’s character to me was almost cardboard thin, I wondered what prompted him to sign on for the movie.
Still, the film is immersive. It’s a looker, it sounds good and the cast put in study performances. There are one or two decent action sequences as well, I was happy that the director took time plan and execute those in a lucid way and not shake the camera and blow snow at it with a fan in the background. A decent movie with fairly measured pacing – they reach the peak at approximately the halfway point of the movie. I would say, generously, that this is a movie that could be worth a watch once. Take your woman to it if you’re stuck.