Everest tells the true story of Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), a mountaineering guide taking a group of climbers up to the top of Mount Everest. One of the people taken on this journey is Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a man with a crumbling marriage, but a passion for climbing. It's these two men that the film primarily focusses on as they hike their way up, avoiding as many difficulties as they can, but are forced to face overwhelming odds when a dangerous storm hits the mountain, putting each and every one of their lives at risk. It's a game of survival as they each attempt to make their way down the mountain before either running out of oxygen or freezing to death. I honestly don't know which one I would consider a worse way to go.
What I really loved about the first half of this movie is how well they set up the stakes. Sure, the pacing is a little bit off, the climb up taking much longer than it needed to, but they got me emotionally invested in these characters. They established who was who, providing just enough backstory to satisfy my emotions. Not only that, but there's a constant sense of dread as they go up this mountain. I didn't know the true story prior to going into this movie so I had no idea who was going to live and who would die. There was tension swirling around all of these characters. Nobody was safe. This is Mount Everest we're talking about. One slip and you're dead.
While it does do certain things right, especially in the third act, up to that point it plays a lot of things very safely. Prior to that storm hitting, nothing in this film really felt risky, aside from the actual climb, obviously. The way everything was handled, particularly the script, felt pretty generic. It works, don't get me wrong, and it's certainly an entertaining movie, I'm not saying it isn't, but nothing at the start really feels groundbreaking. They're dwelling in familiar territory, but putting it on a larger, yet more personal scale.
To sum up, Everest uses its first hour to set up both the stakes and the characters, and while it's certainly entertaining, it's also flawed. When the storm hits in the second half, the film really gets going, and that's when this film truly delivers what it set out to do.