A plane crashes in the freezing depths of Alaska, leaving a group of seven roughneck oil workers stranded in the wild. Realising they’re not likely to be found if they stay with the burnt-out plane husk, the group decide they need to keep moving to find signs of human life. But numbers start to fall as the men realise they’re not alone – they’re being picked off one by one by wolves. Handily, burly Irishman Ottoway (Liam Neeson) turns out to be a wolf expert (even fighting one with his bare hands), and shows the group a few tricks.
Harrowing and bloody death scenes are two-a-penny in The A Team director Joe Carnahan’s survival thriller, but they’re no less poignant – notably when Ottoway tells a man spurting copious amounts of blood after the plane crashes that he is definitely going to die, but at least he’ll be warm. The team fashion spears to protect themselves – cue fight scenes with snarling CGI wolves, which are propped up with a soundtrack of epicly tense proportions and jerky camera work.
Gore and intense suspense is interspersed with conversations about the men’s memories and their musings on life, death, faith and fear. Plus, there’s plenty of gallows humour – when a wolf bites off one of the men’s fingers, he quips: “I think I lost a nail” – which serves at times to lighten the bleak tone. It’s easy to ignore as a gore-fest, but it’s dark, ironic and unveils the levels of human endurance and companionship, or lack thereof, in remote life.
By Clare Vooght
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney | 15 | 117mins