Movie Review: The Summit

By Stephen Rebello

<p>A heart-in-your-mouth look at the incident that took the lives of 11 climbers on the K2 mountain peak.<br></p>

Director: Nick Ryan

Rating: R

Studio: Image Now Films, Fantastic Films

Stars: Christine Barnes, Hoselito Bite, Marco Confortola

In 2008, 24 international climbers made an assault on K2, the planet’s second highest but most treacherous mountain peak. Although the weather was nearly ideal and most of the mountaineers were thoroughly prepared, 11 died tragically and a number of the survivors emerged with different versions of why so many people lost their lives after a number of them successfully made it to the top of the world.

Director Nick Ryan’s documentary has an intense, wholly absorbing story to tell and he handles it with obvious respect for the gravity of the events, for the climbers living and dead and for their loved ones left behind to deal with grief and mystery. Beautifully filmed and deftly blending interviews, impressive reenactments and footage shot in 2008 by the teams before, during and after the climb and ascent, The Summit packs enough inspiration, intrigue and heart-in-the-mouth moments for a dozen movies. Unfortunately, Ryan chooses a nonlinear approach that skips back and forth in time and even includes footage and interviews surrounding the first attempt to reach the top of K2 in 1954. We’ve already got well over a dozen mountaineers to keep track of, a situation that isn’t helped when their faces are often covered in winter gear, let alone how often we’re seeing others reenact the real events. It’s a confusion-causing creative choice that often pulls us right out of the heady adrenaline rush.

Even so, the movie takes hold of you. Very much pointing an accusatory finger at the ineptitude and refusal to take responsibility of a specific country’s climbing team, The Summit must bring up many conflicting emotions in the families of the climbers as well as the survivors themselves. Fumbled and flawed as it is, The Summit packs a punch.


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