Director: Joe Carnahan
Genre: Action, Thriller
Synopsis: Watch Liam Neeson as an unlikely hero who is forced to lead agroupofroughneck guys in their fight to survive and return home when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling injuries and merciless weather, the men must escape the icy elements – and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt – before their time runs out.
Review: This is a story about a bunch of men who work for an oil company and land up being chased by a pack of ferocious wolves. Boom! Sorry for giving away the plot in the first line of my review but this film isn’t for the faint-hearted. Although it’s fairly watchable and not the kind that gives one sleepless nights, one definitely needs to have oodles of patience or should be looking for a reason to hold onto the love of their lives, if they desire to brave this 117 minute film. Yes, there’s ample scope for cuddling one another especially when all you see are the wolves eyes twinkling in the dark.
Okay, you get the drift. The film starts on a very bumpy note and twenty minutes into the film, a plane carrying an oil company’s employees has crashed and stranded its survivors in Alaska. Our hero, John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is all over the place trying to help survivors orient themselves. He and some others are thinking of how to escape but to their horror they discover that they’re being hounded by wolves who refuse to let any of them live in peace and, the audience for that matter (most of whom are dreading to seeing wolves chase men and hear them howl into the night). The film on the surface centers around how these men escape the wolves in these inhuman conditions but there’s more to the film than just a chase between the men and the wolves.
The first half of the film is interesting enough to grab your attention, despite its morbid touch. But after the interval, it becomes like a countdown which leaves you eager for the climax. Just when you start enjoying the banter of the last two survivors, you’re subjected to yet another chase! From blood stained streams to the survivors hiding the bodies of the deceased (so the wolves can’t sniff them), men gobbling wolf meat and beheading it too! This film indeed has it all! Thankfully, this is not the kind of film where the scenes are exceedingly gruesome and make one feel like barfing.
Apart from glorifying the hero, Neeson’s character has been written well. He seems to be escaping something and wants to harm himself. He’s mourning the death or separation of his wife who keeps whispering “Don’t be afraid”. Yes, that’s all we’re told about his wife. The film also touches upon the miserable working conditions of the oil men and how they miss their loved ones. This is depicted very well in one of the later scenes when Neeson gazes at the photos in his colleague’s wallets. There are also some who are merely drifting along as their lives lack any meaning, clearly in distress and could be drowning themselves in alcohol or immersing themselves in work. This thought is echoed by Frank Grillo’s dialogue, “What do I have to go back to?” when he gives up, saying, he wants to ‘rest’ and you notice that his character lacks the will to save himself.
Joe Carnahan has very successfully captured the human element and this makes it easy for the viewer to empathize with the protagonists. Some of the film’s strengths lie in its gripping plot which will get many takers. Also in it’s brutal realism and lastly, the dialogues which stand out – especially when the protagonists are interacting, the camaraderie they share is evident. You can look forward to scenes loaded with dark humour, for instance when they wish wolves were herbivores! The film boasts of a brilliant ensemble cast, all of whom have made their mark.
Of course, this film has abundant scenes which will make your heart pound like the one where Dermot Mulroney is attempting to traverse a river when his spectacles fall, after which he loses his balance and lands in a dense mass of branches. Before you know it he’s at the mercy of the wolves!
But what’s commendable about the film is that it refrained itself from unnecessary drama which is often the case in a film featuring man-eaters and is a trap the director could have easily fallen into. The film may be critically acclaimed but Indian audiences will have a tough time digesting such a film because this one doesn’t have any frills attached to it and tells it as it is.
Verdict: If the thought of getting goose bumps excites you or if you’re looking forward to a realistic thriller, this one’s definitely worth a watch.