Life and Limb: A review of Everest

Everest (2015)

Everest (2015)

“Because it’s there”

Halfway through ‘Everest’, as the group of mostly men sit around in a tent drinking and smiling, Michael Kelly’s Jon asks why they would put life and (literally) limb on the line, just to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain. The other members of the group, look at each other before all shouting, resoundingly, “Because it’s there”.This is what sums up the film in a nutshell. It’s about a bunch of people who choose to climb the most dangerous hill in the world, in the harshest climate in the world, for no other reason than because they feel that they need to.

Throughout the film, we find out the motivations behind why these characters would make this journey, many feel that it would be the ultimate achievement, others, such as Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), who is the leader of an adventure tourism company, and gets paid thousands of pounds to take wealthy men like Beck (Josh Brolin) to the top, do it because he loves to do it. We get told that this is something he does, and not particularly why, he and his regularly climbing friends all do it for the thrill, but we never get to the meat of what defines this passion.

The film avoids these deeper meanings, instead opting for a more crowd pleasing disaster film tale of a great climb, gone wrong, which luckily, doesn’t diminish the finished product. It’s entertaining and exciting, and in terms of button pushing disaster films, it’s actually a bit more grounded than the rest of these sort of films.

It’s nicely made, the cinematography is breezy and beautiful, and the soundtrack is engaging and sweeping. I engaged with the characters, performed greatly by the solid cast, and found myself to be emotionally compromised by the melodrama of the characters’ lives. No spoilers, but a scene towards the end made me shed a tear or two, which was down to the strength of the performances rather than my love of the characters.

The action was brisk and exciting, the sense of danger was apparent, and it was shot and cut clearly and effectively, keeping you aware of where each person was, at what time. Though the distance travelled is somewhat shortened by the time it takes people to get places, never feeling like it’s a hardship, we do get the idea of Everest as a great challenge.

Which brings me back to my initial point. Whilst the film doesn’t succeed in providing great depth to this real life story, even though the characters are well drawn, and you do care, the biggest compliment for the film is that it anchors you to what’s happening on screen, because it’s well made and acted. It’s a solidly enjoyable film with many disparate elements to please and provide memorability. It may not gel for some people, it can be a little unbelievable at times, but I found it to be perfectly engaging.

Rating: B  7/10


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