Walking Out

Walking Out (2017)
★★★ / ★★★★

Alex Smith and Andrew J. Smith’s “Walking Out” unfolds like a beautiful adventure novel, so willing to detail the interior lives of its characters while showing what happens to the father and son, Cal (Matt Bomer) and David (Josh Wiggins), while out in the wilderness during a hunting trip. It is a survival story, certainly, but it works as a drama first and foremost. It makes for a compelling watch, made for lovers of nature and intimate portraits of relationships in which the plot serves to explore the surprising bonds between family and their arresting but unforgiving environment.

Flashbacks are too often misused as a tool to plug in the missing pieces of the screenplay. It is a rare occasion when it is utilized effectively, as it is here, because the memories we come to see serve to enhance an already rich material. Because the filmmakers do not use flashbacks as a crutch, the viewers look forward to the retrospectives since these either highlight a theme or reveal surprising information about why, for example, Cal insists on teaching David how to hunt even though his son is apparently not into it initially.

These flashbacks involve young Cal (Alex Neustaedter), who was around David’s age, and his hunting expeditions with his father (Bill Pullman). The images are majestic, especially when the camera gets as close to an animal as possible, but at the same time the film is unafraid to show that being out in the mountains is often cold, dirty, frustrating, and requires a colossal amount of patience. There is a wise but amusing line regarding the key difference between hunting and shopping.

Bomer and Wiggins share solid chemistry even though there are times when it feels as though we are watching two brothers rather than a father and his son. While it is not necessary to make Bomer look older, it might have helped if the performer had adapted a body language that is a bit more worn or experienced. Or perhaps a certain way of walking. At the same time, however, perhaps the father’s youth is the point, one of the reasons why he connects deeply with his son during moments when he isn’t a teacher or guide.

Meanwhile, Wiggins fits the role as a teenager so used to constantly holding technology in his hands that he forgets his visit to his father in the remote wilderness of Montana is one to be cherished, not just for the views but also when it comes to time to be shared. (We assume his parents are divorced and David only sees his father perhaps once or twice a year.) His growth throughout the picture is thoroughly convincing; it is the correct decision that the final shot be of David looking at a distance.

“Walking Out” is based on a short story by David Quammen. It is efficient but filled with details and so we are entertained by the drama that unfolds. Particularly impressive is the second half in which the dialogue becomes uncommon and the slow pacing dominates. It is meant to capture a particular experience so we are left listening to shuffling feet as it struggles against inches of snow, the call of wild animals, and the muffled sloshing of a river underneath inches of ice.

5 replies »

  1. i think i may check this one out. I looked up Matt Bomer on your site to see what else he has been in. I haven’t really watched him before. How do you feel he is as an actor? I think he seemed pretty good on The Sinner, season 3. I may look at some more of his work. he looks like Henry Cavill’s twin brother. he also looks a bit like Jamie Dornan and Richard Madden; and on certain expressions like Jon Hamm and Michael Fassbender. There are certain actors that I think resemble a slew of other actors; when I used to watch “Dexter” there were like 12 other people I thought Michael C. Hall resembled. lol. Matt Bomer is another one of those actors who resemble many others.

    • I find amusement in your Matt Bomer comment because it’s true! Those 3 actors you mentioned are EXACTLY the actors I think about when I see Bomer. It goes to show, though, that Hollywood has a certain preoccupation for hiring a certain look in a leading man.

      But I disagree about Michael C. Hall. Maybe because I love him but he has a unique face to me. And presence. I love “Dexter” and I look forward to its return. Hopefully by 2023? Did you hear??? They’re reviving it!

      • yeah “Dexter” was my favorite crime series until “Luther” came along. But Dexter is probably my 2nd, over Breaking Bad and others. I think what was so interesting about Dexter was the way anything could happen at anytime; it always kept you guessing. But of course some seasons were better than others, and I thought season 1 was one of the very best stories of cinema; to me it never quite captured the intrigue of season 1 again, but was still really good, nonetheless. The show started dragging later on when it focused too much on Hannah; but that villain played by Ray Stevenson, season 7 i think, was fascinating…

        I thought the ending was stupid, not so much b/c Dexter became a lumberjack and isolated himself, I actually thought that fit his character, but the way Deb didn’t pay attention and allowed that criminal to shoot her; that was WAY out of character; she’s too smart for some rookie mistake like that; then everything afterward felt forced; if you have to kill her off, at least give her an honorable departure and not get shot when acting like some inept cop…

        Michael C. Hall resembles the guy from “Behind The Mask, the Rise of Leslie Vernon”. This was like the mother of horror documentary parodies; it was very fresh at the time, but may feel dated today. Hall also resembles Mark Wahlberg, Jon Cena and Matt Damon at times. Resembles Bill Hader at times. he resembles one of my former Pastors. lol. I can’t think of the others right now, but there were a few. And you have to keep in mind we all look different when we make certain expressions, so your relaxed face or your smiling face you may not resemble anyone, but then when you make certain expressions your face changes and may resemble someone else.

        • I liked the “Dexter” finale ok. But I definitely expected a more exciting SERIES finale. I think I understand what the writers were going for. Dexter has always been an outsider, never fitting in anywhere. He has a compulsion. And so I think the writers bet onto the idea that we have become convinced that Dexter “became” a regular person over the years (had a partner, had a kid, etc.) that the ending is meant to be shocking. But… it isn’t. It was just anticlimactic.

          In retrospect, yes, it could have been so much better. I was expecting more friction between the siblings. Maybe it needed another season.

          Michael C. Hall resembles the guy from “Behind The Mask, the Rise of Leslie Vernon”… Hall also resembles Mark Wahlberg, Jon Cena and Matt Damon at times. Resembles Bill Hader at times.

          I fail to see it! Maybe because Michael C. Hall’s face has made a strong impression on me that his image is uniquely imprinted in my brain.

          • Yeah, I totally get Dexter isn’t normal so a life of isolation fits him. I don’t have a problem with that. Like I said, the problem I had was the way they wrote Deb out; she was smarter and deserved better than to die from a bone-headed rookie cop mistake; this woman survived much harsher situations, and to go down like that just ruined the finale, and even put a damper on the series, since she was such a huge component. But yes, I am looking forward to season 9. It could be really good. Would be interesting to see how Dexter maneuvers around without having the access to the police database, etc.

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