'The Summit' tells of a 2008 expedition to climb K2, a dangerous slab of rock and ice in remote Pakistan that overlooks China. (IFC Films)
Most movies about mountain climbing are pretty linear. You go up the mountain, and then one way or another you come down the mountain.
Give “The Summit” credit for forging its own path. It goes up the mountain a ways, then leaves the mountain to go back four weeks. Then it starts the story of some other guy who went up the mountain 50 years ago, but leaves that tale for a while to go back on the mountain. And then it’s off to ...
You get the picture. Eventually “The Summit” tells the story of a disastrous 2008 expedition to climb K2, a dangerous slab of rock and ice in remote Pakistan that overlooks China. Eleven people of various nationalities died.
The film is a mix of footage taped during the climb and re-creations featuring actors afterward. There are a number of interviews with real survivors, but the entire story is complicated by the fact that brain cells tend to get confused in the thin air above 8,000 feet and most of these survivors were that high — literally and figuratively — for an unhealthy amount of time.
So you have a tangled story being told by director Nick Ryan and writer Mark Monroe in a somewhat tangled way. The result isn’t as much confusing as it is distracting.
Is it really that pertinent that some climber of 50 years ago was never given his proper due? Why do some of the fallen get huge back stories and others barely a glimpse? True, a couple of figures are particularly compelling, but then why not just focus on them?
Those looking for astounding vistas and an unraveling of the disaster will likely be satisfied — essentially the climbers took too long getting to the top and paid the price coming down. But for nonclimbers the path here may simply be too winding.
Rated R for some language
Running time: 95 minutes