Liam ‘voice like a snow-gritter’ Neeson in survival horror mode, here.
In Alaska, a team of oil drillers are just coming to the end of their secondment to the icy wasteland. One of them, Ottway (Neeson), is in emotional turmoil following the death of his wife, and contemplates suicide, even going so far as putting a shotgun in his mouth.
Barrel end first, of course.
He’s not sick.
Not managing to go through with it, instead he finds himself on the flight to Anchorage that will take the drillers home when calamity strikes: the plane goes down, in the middle of nowhere, and only seven survive.
With little in the way of supplies – only what they can salvage from the wreck – their position looks perilous, and is made all the worse when it soon transpires that their most pressing concern is not the Arctic terrain, but a pack of wolves, into whose territory they have inadvertently crashed.
Which will kill them first?
Or the slyly intelligent, massively territorial wildlife?
And it should be a load of old cobblers, but it works terrifically well.
Neeson is perfectly cast as the sour, embittered old gizzard who just happens to be something of an expert on all things lupine.
The director makes excellent use of the terrifyingly frozen landscape, casting an emotionless eye over the terrain to really drive home the full extent of the survivors’ plight.
The wolves themselves are a menacing foe and, though much could be discussed about the plausibility of such usually timid creatures acting in this manner, relax folks; it’s only a movie.
It’s a tough watch on occasion, too, with one particularly grisly sequence involving
the removal of an already dead wolf’s head using nought but a small penknife.
Shown in graphic detail, this scene caused quite the murmuring amongst the audience.
With a bleakness infused in every shot, this may be a Hollywood movie, but it strays far from the well-trodden territory of cliché and
instead forcing the viewer to really think about the conditions the men found themselves in.
Surprisingly powerful stuff.
Also, that first scene in the plane with Neeson felt authentic and was touching. That still is stuck in my mind.
The Trick William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.