Movie review: ‘The Summit’ doesn’t quite make it to the top

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIREROctober 18, 2013 

  • THE SUMMIT

    ••1/2

    Rated: R for some language and adult themes. Starring: Christine Barnes, Hoselito Bite, Marco Confortola. Director: Nick Ryan. Running time: 95 minutes. Theater: Flicks.

K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth and the mountain with the second-highest fatality rate, is the looming, mysterious star of the breathtaking but problematic documentary “The Summit.”

Director Nick Ryan and writer Mark Monroe’s film attempts to get to the truth behind what happened on the infamous August 2008 climb, when 11 of 25 mountaineers died ascending, or descending, the Karakoram peak.

“The Summit” incorporates archival video footage from the ill-fated mountaineering mission, reconstruction scenes shot on K2 — capturing its top-of-the-world vistas in all their majesty — and talking-head interviews with survivors, friends, and family members. (And with actors playing some of them — this doc’s integrity is a bit shaky.)

But because the filmmakers try to solve the mystery of the deaths (especially that of Ger McDonnell, a charismatic Irishman), key events of the climb are revisited (and re-enacted) from different participants’ vantages, making the film at once repetitive and puzzling. There is a lot of finger-pointing. Assertions are made, theories offered, but not much in the way of certainty.

One thing is clear, though. The people who lined up to tackle this 28,251-foot bump in the earth were a unique lot: brave, fearless, crazy, or some combination thereof. From Norway, Spain, South Korea, Serbia, Pakistan, France, Ireland, and Nepal, the climbers who worked their way along the snow and ice, gullies and slopes that summer were living their dream.

And then they died.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service