I don’t understand my race sometimes. Based on true events, this is about a band of experienced hikers making their way all the way up to the summit of Everest. Things are about to get a lot worse for them on the way down, though, as there is a bad storm on its way. I don’t think it’s a big secret: I’m not someone you would ever mistake as being outdoorsy. I can still recognize a man vs. the elements story as having quality elements to it (see: Wild), but I still have a base disconnect because there is a part of my brain that really can’t fully process why anybody would want to do this.
I am very much a white male, and I don’t understand the allure of this predominantly Caucasian pastime. They even go so far to address this in the form of a conversation within the actual movie; there’s a magazine writer that comes along with them for the trek, and he stops and asks them all why they do it. After joking and saying “because it’s there”, they try to justify it with a deeper answer, but I don’t buy it. There are so many more reasons not to do it rather than to go through with it, and unless you’re just legitimately suicidal, I don’t understand why you would want to go through with something this excessively dangerous.
Apart from my mental block and disconnect, I will say that this is beautifully shot. None of these guys are written to have an abundance of personality, but the quality of actors that they got does elevate the script. These are pros like John Hawkes, Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin, and they all show up to work. There’s also an element of true jeopardy in that there isn’t a single person in this group that feels safe, and you’re never certain just who is going to make it and who is dead in the snow. There are emotional scenes that do work towards the end, and while I think they are well done and effective, I think they are ultimately undercut because all of this peril that these guys are in is entirely self-inflicted and could have been avoided if they had just stayed at home and taken up chess instead. I couldn’t get that out of the back of my head, and I don’t think I enjoyed this as much as I could have. I think that there are a number of better survival films out there, and lot of them came out recently (The Grey, Life of Pi, 127 Hours). This is decent, but the only people out there who are really going to have a big connection with this are those crazy people who like to test themselves against the elements, and most of those people don’t stay at home and watch movies.
Everest (2015) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire