Ottway (Neeson) works as a wolf-sniper for a petrol company in the far reaches of Alaska, but is struggling with thoughts of suicide because he misses his wife (Openshaw) so much. Then on a flight to Anchorage, the plane is hit by a severe storm and goes down in the middle of nowhere. There are a handful of survivors, and Ottway soon becomes the leader when they are menaced by howling, growling wolves. Knowing they'd be safer in the treeline, he leads five other men from one peril to another.
It's fairly obvious early on that survival will require a miracle. If the wolves don't get them, they'll probably freeze to death. And if they survive the cold, they have cliffs, rivers and injuries to contend with. Sure enough, the plot quickly adopts a serial-killer approach, as the men fall one by one and the survivors struggle to maintain their resilience.
Yes, it's all rather grim. The scenery may be breathtakingly beautiful, but only if you have a warm cabin to view it from (and a wolf-sniper walking the perimeter). On the other hand, the plot is riddled with niggling improbabilities, the worst of which is the personal vendetta the alpha-wolf seems to have against Ottway. Not to mention the fact that we never believe these wolves are anything other than animated effects with an overwrought sound mix.
Thankfully, the actors all get fairly meaty characters to play, and even though some barely get a chance to register, they all have distinct personalities, thanks to some clever script detail and nice touches by the actors. Grillo has the most interesting role, as a tough guy forced to confront the fear he denies he has. And the film's oddly plaintive, elegiac tone also adds some interest, even if the repeated line "Live and die on this day" becomes a bit maudlin and sappy.
Run time: 117 mins
In Theaters: Friday 27th January 2012
Box Office USA: $51.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $77.3M
Distributed by: Open Road Films
Production compaines: Open Road Films, Inferno Distribution, LD Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Chambara Pictures, 1984 Private Defense Contractors
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 149 Rotten: 40
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Joe Carnahan
Screenwriter: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Starring: Liam Neeson as John Ottway, Dermot Mulroney as Jerome Talget, Frank Grillo as John Diaz, Dallas Roberts as Pete Hendrick, Joe Anderson as Todd Flannery, Nonso Anozie as Jackson Burke, James Badge Dale as Luke Lewenden, Ben Bray as Hernandez (as Ben Hernandez Bray), Larissa Stadnichuk as Flight Attendant #1, James Bitonti as Ottway's Father, Jonathan Bitonti as Young Ottway, Anne Openshaw as Ottway's Wife, Peter Girges as Company Clerk, Ella Kosor as Talget's Little Girl, Jacob Blair as Cimoski, Lani Gelera as Flight Attendant
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...