Films that are based off of true stories that entail a horrible tragedy tend to have larger then life moments exaggerated for a more dramatic payoff, which more often then not hurt the film and the story at hand. None of those type of moments are present in the case of Everest. Its focus lays on the expedition crew that gets hit brutally by a devastating snow storm with side plots that then focus on the individual characters and their own inner turmoil within themselves or at home. It all works well together in varying degrees but the biggest failure the film struggles with is the lack of a consistent tone throughout. It has a tendency to go back and forth within minutes of being a light hearted affair to a brutal heart wrenching tear jerker.
The plot focuses for the most part on three men from the climbing expedition. Rob Hall, (Jason Clarke) who leads the expedition while holding the hands of the men and helping them whenever they hit a speed bump or encouraging them to keep pushing onward. Rob also has a pregnant wife waiting for him at home. Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) who viewed expeditions as a thrill ride and the only thing that truly made him feel alive. However, he was also using it to escape from a broken home and a broken marriage. Lastly there is Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is much more care free then the other two men with no true inner turmoil but struggled with his own personal health issues. Yet, he refused to let it hold him back and constantly pushed his body to the brink. The three men would lead the expedition filled with other men to have another notch on their belt and reach the summit of the biggest mountain on Earth.
Director Balthasar Kormakur has done a good job of building his short resume to date with other films such as 2 Guns and Contraband. With Everest he shows an eye to film more dramatic moments instead of big action set pieces which is his true strong point in filmmaking. Everest does well in more areas then it fails. The biggest failure is of course the pacing and the inconsistent tone. The tones constant flopping of light hearted affair and tearjerker is hard to keep up with and tends to slow the film down. To a lesser extent, the characters are also not entirely fleshed out. Jake Gyllenhaal's Scott Fischer for instance appears out of nowhere and is in the film solely as a plot device to be the opposite end of the spectrum from Jason Clarke's Rob Hall. However, we are given no reasoning as to why Fischer is the way that he is. At least with Hall and Brolin's Beck Weathers we are given some sort of back story.
The performance that Jason Clarke gave as Rob Hall was earnest and for the large part he held the movie together with his everyday man approach to Hall. He was instantly likeable and relatable. Clarke has been steadily rising as a good actor recently with movies such as this one and last year's Apes. Brolin's take on Weathers was the most dramatic of the three main roles and it did an admirable job of it but had some shortcomings. Lastly, Keira Knightley appears as Clarke's wife who has a smaller role but in her few scenes she acts on screen by herself but there is plenty of emotion and power behind her performance. Overall, Everest is a decent film that has it's share of drawbacks but ultimately benefits from a strong cast and some good thrills.