Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman
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Walking Out is a perfectly serviceable, somewhat old-fashioned, robust drama, but not much more.
Fathers, sons, and the often massive emotional gulfs that can exist between them is perennial theme for film – heck, for narrative overall. Later this year we’ll see Jason Sudeikis deal with his issues regarding his ailing father in Kodachrome. For now, we have young actor Josh Wiggins deal with his issues regarding his injured father (Matt Bomer) – not to mention being stranded in the wilds of Montana – in the taciturn, almost Hemingway-esque Walking Out.
The plot is easily sketched. 14 year old David (Wiggins), a city kid glued to his smartphone, is sent off to spend time with his separated father, Cal (Bomer). Thoughtful mountain man Cal takes the boy on hunting trip into the rugged, snowcapped mountains, only to suddenly have to rely on David for his life when he is injured, and the two must work together to survive the harsh environment.
There’s a strong sense of ritualised masculinity to the proceedings here – Cal’s stories of hunting with his own father (Bill Pullman in flashback) underscore the generational handing down of knowledge and wisdom, while his disdain for tourist hunters who leave the leave to rot after taking down a trophy buck illustrate his respectful attitude to the natural world and his place as a hunter in it.
Some beautiful location photography by Todd McMullen occasionally verges on the genuinely awe-inspiring, and provides a suitably dramatic backdrop against which our young protagonist can grapple with notions of responsibility, stoicism, pragmatism, and what it means to be a man. The performances are good, especially Bomer, who touches lightly upon the kind of mythic mountain man territory surveyed by Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson without drifting into caricature – mainly down to his ability to communicate the pain he feels at his son’s estrangement.
Still, this is all pretty familiar stuff, and while we might meander across the map a bit, the final destination is clearly demarcated. Walking Out is a perfectly serviceable, somewhat old-fashioned, robust drama, but not much more. It’s hard to call that a fault – the film clearly knows what it’s about and doesn’t feel any need to go beyond its obvious aims – but if you;re expecting a fresh take on this sort of story, you’re not going to find it here.