Earlier on in "Free Solo," rock climber Alex Honnold's brain is scanned to assess the activity in the Amygdala, the part of the human brain which triggers stress and fear, and the results are astonishing: there is barely any activation in Honnold's scans. This stuns the doctors but they do understand why that might be the case; you see, Honnold is a free solo climber — he climbs without safety ropes — and he is crazy enough to attempt a trek up the 3,000-foot cliff of El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park without safety ropes, of course.
Honnold's obsession with the Yosemite National Park drives directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin's film, who previously made the acclaimed mountain-climbing movie "Meru." However, "Free Solo" is on a whole other level, as they follow Honnold over two years of preparation to pull the death-defying stunt.
Once the Honnold embarks on this feat, in the last 20 minutes of the film, with Vasarhelyi and Chin's cameras strategically located to shoot the climb as cinematically as possible, it turns out to be one of the most breathlessly thrilling movie moments I have ever experienced. Read my full review here.