Summary: In the Alaskan arctic north, where only oil companies would venture, work a group of men whose jobs are not only extracting resources from the bleak land, but protecting themselves from the elements and from the native killers- wolves. This film is about losing your defenses, and having to face the dangers not only of the outside wilderness but of the internal world of fear that some men leave unchallenged until they must fight for their lives.
Full Review: John Ottway (played by Liam Neeson) is a hired sharpshooter and big game hunter who is supposed to kill wolves that threaten the work camp of the Alaskan oil-workers he is employed with. Ottway's internal dialogue provides the narration for the film and it introduces you to a troubled middle-aged man who is heartbroken over the loss of his wife. We aren't immediately told if she simply left him or died, but his grief is the prominent catalyst for his narrative.
Very quickly, Ottway and a group of other employees at the outpost are boarding a plane for a trip out of the north. The story begins full force when the plane crashes and most of the travelers are killed. The plot quickly establishes Ottway with a half dozen men trying to find their way back to civilization amidst the bone-chilling snow and the bone-crushing pack of wolves that pursue the cadre as prey.
Neeson's character gains strength by reciting advice and poetry handed to him from the memory of his father. As the seemingly obvious showdown with the wolves draws nigh, Ottway is challenged with the question of whether his courage will be enough to live up to the lines of the poem he recites:
Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live or die on this day.
Live or die on this day.
The journey for the men facing the winter and the wolves, while contrived, is still frightening, and even ghoulish, as limbs, wounds and wolves combine with enough blood to churn lighter stomachs. There are parts of the movie that even look a touch cheesy- for example, the "eyes in the dark" scene strangely reminds us of scenes from the animated 1994 Disney epic, Lion King. And while the those directorial weaknesses remind you this isn't epic film-making, Neeson's unstoppable screen presence lifts the film on his shoulders and carries it home.
Again, it is Ottway's internal world that frames the best part of the intellegent conversation of this film. His wife, his father, his self-evaluations- these are what give the movie its boyancy and life. The end-game is important enough that I won't give it away here. It's not a great film, but certainly well worth watching and is a solid B rating from this reviewer.
For parents, I recommend no one under 16 see this film. The violence, gore and language are too strong, vivid and constant.
Amazon DVD Link: http://amzn.to/NDvfgf
Review by Kim Gentes