Based on what actually happened regarding the disaster that befell a group of climbers in 1996, Everest recounts the harrowing details of what occurred during those fateful days spanning the ill-fated climb up that mountain.
Rob Hall (Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Gyllenhaal) are both tremendously experienced climbers who lead their own respective teams on this particular mission. They decide, earlier on in the story that for technical aspects as well as for reasons of bettering their chances of survival in the face of adverse conditions, that they pool in their resources and expertise.
Straight off the bat, the single most impressive aspect about this film really is the geographical titan that is the Everest, in all its towering, windswept, snow-capped glory. Salvatore Totino's (Inferno, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons among others) cinematography puts you right out there with the climbers, feeling that same sense of excitement, fear, trepidation and determination that the mountaineers themselves felt. Dramatic, swooping camera angles, awesome panoramas as well as tight, tense close-ups place you front and center in the action. And speaking of action, this film eschews drama for the sake of it. On one hand, this might make some viewers feel the movie is a bit slow, but that has probably been deliberate on Kormakur's part, given that he wanted to keep the human element, as well as attendant aspects of tragedy and pathos, at the fore.
Brolin as Beck Weathers puts up the best performance, playing a stoic and strong Texan who also isn't afraid to show a bit of human weakness in the face of danger. He is not even remotely as experienced as Fischer and Hall, but displays the kind of determination and grit that kept him soldiering on despite almost impossible conditions. Keira Knightley's part as Hall's wife is small but effective. Strangely enough, Gyllenhaal gets barely any screen time. While the film can drag at times, emphasis is placed on the man-versus-nature angle here. An interesting tale of tragedy and survival.