Overall Grade: (C)
Nothing groundbreaking here but for a B-movie it was still a decent adventure with a good pace and enough grizzly attacks to make it worth a watch.
Other Working Titles:
“Red Machine” – “Endangered” – “Into the Grizzly Maze”
Two estranged brothers will have to rely on one another as one searches for an old friend and the other the love of his life. Trekking through the rough Alaskan wilderness the two called home as kids, they find themselves being stalked by a massive blood hungry bear.
There was nothing ground-breaking about this film but it did a very good in job in enough elements to make this wilderness adventure definitely worth a one-time viewing. James Marsden and Thomas Jane were both very believable in their roles and with their chemistry together you can truly feel the brother dynamic between the two. The cast as a whole was a strong suit for this film that despite delivering an adventure worth vesting your time in, took little chances in its story-line that showed no real ambition.
A pseudo remake of the 1976 film with the same title, one that was at the time often referred to as a “Jaws” ripoff, this film to felt like it did bring more then that. There was enough story to build the suspense from an otherwise generic premise and with a shorter run-time. The lulls are eliminated for the most part and the pace helps keep this adventure moving, thus removing more chances for thin dialogue to ruin the mood to the point of becoming a hindrance.
Not a star-studded cast, but certainly filled with recognizable names, the effort in their performances was clear to see. The small cast maneuvered the treacherous wilderness and none seemed out of place. I also enjoyed the performance of Piper Perabo, who as the blind conversationalist photographer added a nice twist to a collection of characters. There was also no denying the fact the cast, by their physical performances, were able to bring more from the run of the mill material they were working with.
The truly entertaining performance in this film was from Billy Bob Thornton who with his much smaller role still managed to deliver some of the more compelling moments, that didn’t feature a massive bear or running through the dense forest. With only a collection of lines, his demeanor and and delivery make him the most compelling character in the film. Possibly giving Thornton more of an impact on the story and some more screen-time could have resulted in a much more enthralling adventure/thriller.
The largest drawbacks to this film was the lack of ambition in the scripts direction. For the most part you can predict the events that will follow and luckily there are a collection of nice bear attacks to keep your interest clearly more visually, rather than anything that will compel your mind. The third-act also got to the near-absurd mark when the filmmakers could have easily ended it. But like too many times we have all seen before, the creators tried too hard and the result was mildly laughable.
The strongest aspects of this one was easily the settings and cinematography. The Alaskan wilderness provided a thrilling backdrop to a script that unfortunately did not match the same level of intensity. The rugged terrain was also well shot with nice angles and the use of specific times of day to convey the beauty and danger of the region were a raving success. While there was a hint of a “Jaws” like approach to keeping the massive bear and star of this film in the shadows, there was still some very fun attacks that did make for some cringe-worthy moments.
Overall this was not a spectacular film by any means and with a collection of solid actors that try to make the most out of some very thin characters you will not be fully engrossed in the story-line. But with some great backdrops the mood of the wilderness setting is fun enough to sit back and watch a quick adventure that gives you some violently fun grizzly attacks and a surprise performance by Thornton. Other then that, this film seemed to miss the mark with the creativity in the plot holding the enjoyment of this film back like a bear-trap. It’s not all bad and doesn’t completely disappoint but in the end much of this one will be forgotten.