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David (Josh Wiggins), an urban teenager, journeys to rural Montana to hunt big game with his estranged, "off the grid" father, Cal (Matt Bomer). As they ascend deep into the wilderness, father and son struggle to connect on any level, until a brutal encounter leaves them both with serious injuries, forcing them into a struggle to survive. Based on the American short story "Walking Out."
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A slowly spun yarn lacking emotional depth or excitement.
I'm a simple moviegoer with pretty average expectations.
I saw this film the first weekend of Sundance 2017 without knowing too much about it. I was excited about it because I'm a fan of Matt Bomer and I had seen Josh Wiggins in another Sundance movie, Hellion, in 2014. I don't often write film reviews but I've been wanting to share my thoughts on this movie since seeing it.
While the majority of this review is focused on the parts of the film I disliked, please understand that I did not find this film to be a disgrace and I'm not vehemently opposed to it. There's a lot that I thought simply didn't hit the mark or simply didn't appeal to me. Before starting my tirade, though, I want to commend the film for its beautiful location and cinematography.
And here's my tirade: I disliked the score as it felt out of place or ineffective at conveying the mood of the scene in most places.
I disliked the world building and character development. I cared very little about either protagonist because I didn't really know anything about them. One is just a pretty normal kid from a broken family and the other is a guy who presumably spent his entire life hunting while taking a brief hiatus to father a child and then get a divorce.
On a similar note, the entire first hour of the movie (or the chance to learn more about the characters) was mostly just redundancy...and walking...lots of walking. Perhaps this was an artistic decision in order to help us empathize with David's (the son) boredom or to articulate to the audience the patience of hunting and/or the depth to which the two are in the wild. In any case, as a film-goer, it was wearisome.
The climax of the movie happens a little over halfway through but the sense of danger is quickly diminished. I'm not some high octane junkie looking for action at every turn but I thought the movie lacked urgency or purpose. I was sorely disappointed to find that after a very slow crawl to a single moment of excitement, we return back to another very slow crawl until the end of the movie. There seemed to be a lot more potential for telling the story in a way that incited a heightened sense of fear. Instead, we got melancholy until the end.
For a film that is clearly meant to establish an emotional connection to its audience, it lacked a strong narrative and relatable characters.
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