VOD film review: Walking Out
Josh Slater-Williams | On 25, Feb 2018
Director: Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith
Cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Lily Gladstone
Watch Walking Out online in the UK: iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / TalkTalk TV / Virgin Movies / eir Vision Movies / Google Play
Walking Out is a two-hander between a father and son pair, but the real star is the Montana landscape. Co-writers and directors (and real-life brothers) Alex and Andrew Smith capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains in winter in a fashion that would surely satisfy the Montana tourism board, were it not for the fact this is also a harrowing tale of survival, after a run-in with a bear leads to a string of disasters for its protagonists. This is less The Revenant, though, and more The Reverence, as a deep respect for both nature and nurture proves vital to making it out alive.
Josh Wiggins is a compelling presence as suburban Texas teenager David, sent to Montana for an annual hunting trip with his estranged, off-the-grid father, while Matt Bomer is terrific as the patriarch, Cal. Playing against his pretty boy type – see the Magic Mike films – as a shrewd, weathered man (and one older than Bomer actually is), he helps bring gravitas to a narrative that’s ultimately a textbook boy-becomes-a-man story, as striking as select scenes are.
Peppered throughout the film are flashbacks to Cal’s own youth, where he also went hunting with his father (Bill Pullman) and discovered some important life lessons. Simultaneously slight and over-explanatory, these sequences ultimately come across as unnecessary for filling in the back story of its leading man; Bomer’s eyes convey so much about his character’s complicated relationships with nurture and (literal) nature that the deflating speechifying of Pullman’s scenes feel like a disservice to his commanding performance.
The device also does some disservice to Wiggins’ work, as the writer-director Smith brothers end up seeming more interested in the past than they do their present, despite the compelling hook of their present timeline narrative: an injured teen, timid and unaccustomed to the harsh hunting lifestyle (or even understanding of its appeal), forced to drag his even worse-for-wear, bullet-wounded father down a snow-covered mountain, with threatening animals roaming around the place. It’s a desperate situation and perfectly gripping enough on its own. Forget walking out: maybe there should have been some cutting out.