WALKING OUT, the latest film from directors Alex Smith (The Slaughter Rule) and Andrew J. Smith (The Slaughter Rule), is a survival tale told through the lens of a father and son who encounter a brutal attack in the wilderness. The film stars Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), Josh Wiggins (Max) and Bill Pullman (Independence Day).
The film centers around David (Wiggins), a teenager who travels to Montana to visit his estranged father, Cal (Bomer). Hoping to reconnect with his son, Cal plans a trip into the wilderness to hunt big game in hopes that his son will appreciate and understand the solitude and beauty that nature and animals possess. However, during the trip, they encounter a bear cub that sets off a chain reaction that leaves both father and son gravely injured and away from any civilization. With supplies running low, and no other option in sight, they must work together to find a way out of the frigid temperatures and dangerous wilderness before they both succumb to their casualties.
When it comes to survival horror I’m typically a fan. Nothing is as frightening as finding yourself in a situation that has become life or death. Movies such as Adam MacDonald’s Backcountry or Adam Green’s Frozen are perfect examples of terrifying events that have gone horrifyingly wrong. Going into this film, I was hoping to have that same feeling of dread, anticipation, and stress, but instead I was left feeling bored and dissatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, the film is beautiful to look at with sweeping shots of the Montana mountains covered in pristine snow, which lends itself beautifully to the overall story as it unfolds, but that's about it. Where this film suffers the most is in the execution of the story.
Though our main leads find themselves in a situation that calls on their survival skills, the main focus of WALKING OUT is about the relationship between David and Cal. I don’t have any issues with complex relationships in films, but I had a hard time believing Matt Bomer to be an off-the-grid mountaineer desperately trying to bond with his son through hunting. On top of that, the flashback scenes, which feature Cal as a teenager bonding with his father (played by Bill Pullman), felt forced and lackluster. I get this was a tactic for us to better understand Cal, his love for hunting, and his desperate need to connect to his city-ways son, but I had a really hard time relating to this aspect of the film.
With that said, when the action finally picked up, which wasn’t until way further into the film than I would have liked, I felt my interest perk up. The fight for their survival did feel genuine and both Bomer and Wiggins did a great job of conveying their fear and determination, I just wished that the focus of the film had been more on this and how both their lives were changing in that instant then all the other hunting-bonding that was going on prior. The film ended up on a sad note but there was some hope tucked inside the somber conclusion which I did appreciate. It reminds viewers that not every movie has to end on a happy note.
Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of WALKING OUT, I did enjoy the moments that showcased our main leads working through the harshest of conditions to survive. In regards to the technical aspects, as I said above, the film was shot beautifully which allowed the backdrop of a wintry Montana to drive home the importance of how dangerous these uncharted areas can be. Those looking for a film that is more character driven will definitely enjoy WALKING OUT, just don’t expect to be sitting on the edge of your seat anticipating what is to come.
WALKING OUT is now available to own on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory