As viscerally intense as Gravity and tinged with the same level of inevitable doom as The Perfect Storm, this is a fittingly harrowing depiction of a most tragic day in mountaineering history. Those familiar with Krakauer's Into Thin Air , David Breashears IMAX documentary, or the countless other stories and memoirs about May 10, 1996, will find the story spot on in its facts, without veering too much into controversy or assigning blame to anyone involved. The entire cast is wonderful: Clarke is perfectly cast as organized, detail-oriented Hall, as is Gyllenhaal as Hall's foil, ski bum/mountaineer Fischer, and Keira Knightley as Hall's pregnant wife, Jan Arnold, who stayed behind in New Zealand.
Director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) makes good use of 3D during the climbing scenes and ramps up the tension around the idea that every single step could lead to doom or death. One of the only disappointments is that, with their full gear on, most of the characters are hard to distinguish, unless you memorize who wore the North Face versus the Marmot or Patagonia. Also, don't expect much back story for anyone but Hall and the uber-Texan Weathers, whose matronly wife Peach is played by a miscast Robin Wright. Hall's plotline works well, but Weathers' feels overdone with Lone Star aggrandizement. Despite these minor quibbles, the movie delivers on most fronts; if your stomach can handle the unnerving life-and-death nature of the story, Everest is respectful and realistic, affecting and difficult to forget.