Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Canada/USA, 2021. Bron Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Film Rites. Screenplay by Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt, Taylor Sheridan, based on the novel by Michael Koryta. Cinematography by Ben Richardson. Produced by Garrett Basch, Aaron L. Gilbert, Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Turen, Steven Zaillian. Music by Brian Tyler. Production Design by Neil Spisak. Costume Design by Kari Perkins. Film Editing by Chad Galster.
Angelina Jolie plays a firefighting smoke-jumper who sits high in her treetop tower keeping an eye out for trouble, haunted by a tragedy of the previous year when she lost three of the town’s children in a disastrous fire. Across the country, an accountant with too many secrets (Jake Weber) grabs his pre-teen son (Finn Little) and makes a run for it, just barely escaping the hired assassins (Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult) who are quickly on his tail. Weber is separated from his kid in Montana and the boy finds his way into Jolie’s warm and loving arms, and she helps him outrun the bad guys while her ex-boyfriend and the town’s hot cop Jon Bernthal faces the gunmen head on. The scripts of Cliffhanger and Gloria are combined with mathematical precision and delivered with satisfying results in this predictable but not actually painful action thriller. Jolie doesn’t for a second blend in with her surroundings as a real person and looks like a movie star visiting the countryside, but she enjoys being charismatic and kind to her inferiors, and is met in the middle of the road by a charmingly vulnerable Little as her young charge. Director and co-writer Taylor Sheridan’s previous efforts, the script for Hell or High Water and writing/direction of Wind River, managed to couch their genre plots in a deeper, more resonant appreciation for the rural cultures that they were set in, and it was the tangible atmosphere that made them unforgettable; here the world of forest rangers is used as barely more than an aesthetic background and hardly makes an impression. It’s a film that you will forget as soon as you’ve watched it, the digitally created forest fires are never convincing enough and rob the experience of stakes, perfect summarizing a film that is both enjoyable and shallow.