I am sure you were expecting Spiral the “next” installment of the Saw franchise. Don’t worry! That will be next week’s review. My co-reviewer may be a bigger horror buff than me and she went on vacation.
That being said, this week’s review was one I was HIGHLY excited for. First, I couldn’t remember Angelina Jolie in a movie in quite some time. She usually churns at good films. Also that supporting cast! You’ll notice the names are familiar.
We have Jon Bernthal (Shane from The Walking Dead and The Punisher) Nicholas Hoult (X-Men) and of course Aiden Gillen (a VILE man in Game of Thrones.) The director Taylor Sheridan has released absolutely fantastic films in the last few years (Hell or High Water I highly recommend.) Yes, you were expecting a horror review, but how about an old-fashioned thriller. There is fire.
Onto the film.
We open with smokejumpers in the sky. It’s a beautiful shot (LITTLE CGI) and cuts right to the action. These men and women are coming into fight a fire that is out of control. We meet Hannah Faber (Jolie) in the midst of everything going on. She looks around at the carnage as firefighters are on fire and the forest is in flames. She then awakens. This was a nightmare from a previous time.
We then cut to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and meet the Blackwell brothers (Hoult and Gillen) they are in disguise in order to gain entry to a home. We then cut to the brothers leaving. One comments to the other he has blood on his shirt. Slow tension builds from this point on.
We then learn more about our characters in play. Hannah (Jolie) is now posted in a fire lookout tower in Montana. It seems her smoke jumping days are over. We learn that previously in Florida the Blackwell’s murdered the family they visited. Owen Casserly (Weber) is a forensic accountant and worked for that family.
He assumes he will be targeted next and heads on the run with his son Conner (Little) to his family in Montana. His brother-in-law is named Ethan (Bernthal) who lives there. I am sure you can now see where this is going.
All parties meet and the chase is on. I worried at this point we would encounter the same chase films we have seen time and time again. I was pleasantly surprised to be MOSTLY wrong. A few action sequences I expected X to happen and Y did. Abby would be pointing at me and saying WRONG! I know. I know.
However, this doesn’t mean we have a complete slam dunk here. The plot is thin at times. They aren’t running around in circles literally but it feels like it. The first 2/3 of the movie are well-paced and flow with the right amount of tension with some humor peppered in. The final third of the film does leave some to be desired. We ALMOST had a 5 star review!
Given the last few weeks and the movies we’ve watched these feels like one of the good ones. The scenery in Montana and allowing the forest to act as its own character against the others was a nice aspect that we don’t see often. The cast was billed perfectly, and you HATED the bad guys and LOVED the good ones.
A big shoutout to the young actor playing Conner (Finn Little.) The kid kept up with the top-billed actors. I think what surprised me the most with the cast was Angelina Jolie. Her character has trauma, and heartbreak and she plays it perfectly. We don’t see her as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but as a regular person.
Next week, like I said is Spiral so we will be doing a complete change of pace. This week go see this film. It plays well in the theaters, especially with the action scenes and the forest backdrop. As far as thrillers goes, this is one of the best ones in a while. 4 stars out of 5