‘Free Solo’: A man against a mountain
Free Solo (two and a half stars out of four) – which is not a Star Wars movie, by the way – follows mountain climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to scale Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan without the use of ropes or safety gear, all under the watchful eyes and cameras of husband-and-wife documentary filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, a culmination of Honnold’s eight-year obsession to achieve the feat.
Due time is spent covering Honnold’s life, much of which is spent either in the minivan he calls home or preparing for the ascent, as well as his childhood and early years. It’s easy to admire Honnold’s determination and skills, but he’s pretty casual about things – so much so that one may grow a little impatient to hurry things along and get on with the climb.
Not surprisingly, the cinematography (by Chin, Clair Popkin, and Mikey Schaefer) is quite spectacular, and Marco Beltrami’s score adds a bit of tension to the proceedings, yet even for those unaware of the outcome, Free Solo comes across as anti-climactic. The film is engrossing but not necessarily compelling, and Tim McGraw’s end-credit ballad, “Gravity,” is awfully hokey.