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Walking Out Review

Walking Out is a 2017 adventure film about an urban teenager who journeys to Montana to hunt big game with his estranged father, leading to brutal encounter that changes everything.

We as a species thrive on challenge, pitting ourselves against the very harshest that nature can throw at us and the movies have long put stories of that struggle to screen. Now comes Alex and Andrew J. Smith‘s latest Walking Out, an atmospheric drama of self discovery that explores the relationship of father and son, man and nature, in a deeply personal and thought-provoking film.

David (Josh Wiggins) is a typical fourteen-year-old, wearing headphones, playing games on his phone, smart and exploratory. He’s picked up at a rural Montana airport in the dead of a cold fall by his father Cal (Matt Bomer), his parents long separated. The two are not close, seeing each other only once a year where father and son live in a cabin to go hunting in the high peaks. The boy has yet to get a kill and Cal is determined this is the year, having tracked a bull moose for weeks prior. David is not much for killing but it’s less about the hunt and more about growth. However an unexpected encounter with a grizzly bear changes everything, literally for David carrying on his back the burdens of being a son and the challenge to become a man.

Shot on location, Walking Out is glorious to look at, the Smith’s first priority to give the land and the traditions it offers a great deal of respect. David and Cal are small amid the mountains yet Cal is no stranger, he having been weaned off the land by his father Clyde (Bill Pullman), who taught him what hunting means for those who do it for the meat not the sport. It’s a proud family responsibility, one Cal takes seriously and wants nothing more than to pass on. That becomes all the more clear when they discover the body of the moose already shot and left behind by ‘tourist’ hunters, angering Cal. But that soon falls to the wayside when nature has its own plan for Cal.

Walking Out is not an action film, refusing to be a standard deadly survival story but rather an introspective experience about the bonds of father and son, customs and behaviors passed down from one to the other. It’s an often quite story, with the two walking through the trees, Cal extolling wisdom he’s learned from Clyde, periodically seen in rosey flashbacks. It waxes philosophical on the merits of being a certain kind of man and when things go very bad, David is set upon to be more than he thinks, with Cal discovering great worth in his boy.

The second half of Walking Out shifts a bit, embracing its title and evolving into more of a thriller of sorts, certainly the ever-present rumbling of a lurking bear adding to the growing tension, though this is not what you think. The film uses metaphor for change, and as the struggle to get out grows all the more challenging, the movie becomes symbolic of how far we’ve come from our long fading past and connection with the natural world. The imagery of the rites of passage can sort of be heavy-handed at times but nonetheless necessary for the story to be what it’s ultimately about. This is a parable, akin to the likes of The Revenant and as such is a deeply humanizing film, its somber score (by Ernst Reijseger) and breathtaking visuals leaving this a contemplative, emotional experience.


Walking Out Review

Movie description: Walking Out is a 2017 adventure film about an urban teenager who journeys to Montana to hunt big game with his estranged father, leading to brutal encounter that changes everything.

Director(s): Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith

Actor(s): Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman

Genre: Adventure

  • Our Score
User Rating 4.25 (4 votes)
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