A gripping watch hampered by an abrupt ending
There’s something timelessly endearing about an adventure story. And even more so when it’s based on true events. From 127 hours to Jungle, across to the frozen slopes of Everest, there are a wealth of different movies to whet the appetite. With so many competing for attention in this field, it’s perhaps a tough ask for Polish movie Broad Peak to stand out. And in many ways, it does stand out- but not always for the right reasons.
For those unaware, Broad Peak is based on the life of extraordinary Polish mountaineer and guide, Maciej Berbeka. Beloved as one of the country’s vest and most adventurous climbers, Maciej climbs Broad Peak mountain and almost dies in doing so. He’s hailed a hero and makes mainstream news across the world. Only… there’s a problem.
25 years later, Maciej learns with crushing reality that he hasn’t actually conquered the mountain. He was 17 meters from the summit. Determined to “finish what he started”, Maciej decides to brave the mountain once more.
The story itself is pretty good, although the ending is unusually abrupt and actually quite disappointing. Given how dramatic and nail-biting the first half of this film is, the fact that the second half takes on much more of a lackadaisical approach is a bitter pill to swallow. I can’t help but feel an extra 20/25 minutes to really soak in the atmosphere, ala. something like Everest, would have helped this movie tremendously.
Those expecting something super dramatic and full of death-defying leaps and crazy action certainly won’t find that here. Unlike something akin to Jungle, which threw everything and the kitchen sink at Daniel Radcliffe’s troubled character, Broad Peak is far more interested in staying true to the real events, making sure everything is super grounded.
Part of this realism is helped by gorgeous cinematography and impressive on-location shots. Filmed across a number of different mountain ranges, the ascent up Broad Peak, complete with extreme close-ups of frozen beards, snow shoes crunching on the ground and ice axes trying to penetrate the thick ice, really help to get you immersed in what’s happening.
The characters, however, are much more of a mixed bag. This is very much Maciej’s story and everyone around him plays second fiddle to that. We do see his wife Ewa a few times, but her character has a lot of room for emotional depth that’s never explored. I won’t spoil anything but seeing her at the end, reacting to news from the mountain, would have really helped that ending tremendously. In many ways her exclusion from that is particularly egregious given they kept showing her after the first ascent.
Broad Peak is a decent enough adventure movie on its own, but compared to so many others in this field, it fails to match up. The film is crying out for another 20 minutes to give a better conclusion, while the lack of characterization for anyone other than Maciej is a bit disappointing. Despite that, this is a gripping watch in the moment, but unlikely to be something you’ll return to in a hurry.
Read More: Broad Peak Ending Explained
Verdict - 6.5/10