|"I got your picture/I got your picture/I'd like a million of |
you all by myselllllf...."
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live and die this day.
Live and die this day."
1) I should get this out of the way--I can maybe understand why Liam Neeson took this role, but the subplot involving his wife and why he's where he is at the start of the film left a bad taste in my mouth given Neeson's personal history in the last few years.
(Of course, Neeson was apparently a last minute replacement for Bradley Cooper, so maybe he did this as a favor for director Joe Carnahan regardless of how he felt about that portion of the script.)
2) I do like the fact that Carnahan lets the audience in on a little piece of information that only we (and Dallas Roberts' Hendricks) know that makes it clear that he is the absolute last person we want to lead us out of a disaster.
|"We're going to walk south, we're going to find civilization...|
and you, Mulroney, are going back to that hospital and
feign some interest in Ellen Pompeo!"
3) At its absolute core, this is a classic George Romero 'The Human Fuck It Up For Themselves' film--and if we didn't get it from the way Carnahan shoots many of the wolf attacks, it's driven home by that final scene, where Neeson's Ottway reaches the end of his road.
4) I have to wonder if Carnahan shot portions of this film on film stock. Especially in the first act and portions of the second, there's a graininess that gives the film a weird cinema verite feel, as if this is some sort of documentary. And to be fair, some of the close-ups, with the grain seeming to crawl over the actors' faces like insects, gives us a general sense of unease.
5) There is some heavy CGI work, but here's why it didn't bother me--the CGI animals are obscured by snow, which prevents us from getting a good look at them, and furthermore gives them a strange, ghostly appearance as they apparently materializes out of the malestrom.
6) While I appreciate that Carnahan always plays fair and foreshadows each man's fate (we see Nonso Anozie's Burke wheezing and slowing down throughout the film before he succumbs from hypoxia; Frank Grillo's Diaz never mentions any family which leads to his decision to sacrifice himself, etc.), that foreshadowing gives the film a slightly mechanical feel to it, as if the script is playing things by rote. But then....
7) This film, for most of its running time, is structured like a classic Slasher movie with wolves in the place of Freddie or Jason, and the middle of nowhere in the place of Small Town USA. And it fits rather well....
|"And if you don't name your poison/I'll have to call the bo--|
no wait, I'll just punch you in the face."
8) Dermot Mulroney's Talget is the one character that seems out of place here. Carnahan's script makes it clear that this oil drilling site is home to a bunch of nothing but Pur-Dee Mean Desperate Men (the words 'ex-cons' and 'assholes' is bandied about at the top of the film)...and yet, save for a reference to his ex-wife, Talget is portrayed as anything but Pur-Dee Mean. And given how his flaw (he's afraid of heights, and he has to climb along a rope high up in the sky! Scary!) is foreshadowed so shortly before his death (he falls!), everything about him rings false in this otherwise well-structured film.
9) On the other hand, Robert's Hendricks manages to walk the fine line between being a Desperate Man and A Sympathetic Guy....and Carnahan's reveal about what Hendricks knows about Ottway throws his behavior in a new light--juuuuust before his fate (arguably the most shocking of the bunch) is triggered.
10) It should be pointed out that the moment we're all waiting for--i.e. Neeson punching wolves in the face--never really happens. The lead up does happen, and Carnahan leaves it up to us to decide the outcome. However, there's a post-credits shot that I am positive was added after the fact as a sop to people who were going to complain they didn't get what the trailers promised them they'd get.
Overall...a much different experience than the trailer promises, this is a bleak and sometimes depressing little number that comes off sometimes as horror movie, sometimes as art movie and can be seen to work as both. It might not be to everybody's taste...
Back to the Atlas for this one, which featured some really peculiar trailers, including Silent House (since found footage is loosing its glamour, it's time to trot out real-time films and one take films, and mash 'em into one!), Jeff Who Lives At Home (an arthouse comedy trailer--down to the use of Arcade Fire songs as background music!--that I might be interested solely for the presence of Jason Segal and Susan Sarandon), Lockdown (which must have been cobbled together from the script fragments of John Carpenter's Escape From Earth, down to when I saw the point when one of the actors claims there's only one person who can get the President's daughter out of the prison in space, I expected him to finish with 'Snake' and not 'Snow.') and Cabin In The Woods (which looks like stock slasher movie stink...until a bird flies into as force field and actually convinces me this might be more than Joss Whedon Pop Culture Wanking).