Director Baltasar Kormákur turns in a grueling testament to the hell that is climbing the world’s tallest mountain in a production that demands to be seen on an IMAX screen.
Jason Clarke does his best work since Zero Dark Thirty as Rob Hall, who helped lead an ascent of Mount Everest that resulted in the deaths of eight people in 1996. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer, another of the expedition’s leaders who’s legendary for his ability to scale the mountain without the aid of oxygen. Josh Brolin is on hand as Beck Weathers, the brash Texan who has perhaps bitten off a little more than he can chew, while John Hawkes is present as Doug Hansen, an ambitious climber returning after a failed ascent the year before. Yes, some of these real people have been written a tad stereotypically, but you won’t care once the snow hits the mountain.
Kormakur has crafted a movie that puts you right in the middle of things—genuinely uncomfortable things. The effects are very good, and there’s a nice attention to detail when it comes to the perils of climbing.
The supporting cast includes Emily Watson as the mother hen at base camp, Keira Knightley as a worried wife, and a solid Sam Worthington as climber Guy Cotter.
This expedition is the one on which Jon Krakauer based his book. He was on the expedition and he’s in the movie, played well by Michael Kelly.
Everest is now playing in regular format at the Ultrastar Mary Pickford Stadium 14 (36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100); and the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342). It’s playing in IMAX/large-screen format at the Regal Rancho Mirage, as well as the Ultrastar Desert Cinema Large Screen Experience (68510 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-324-7333).