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A bunch of city slickers from different backgrounds go into the wild mountains to be one with nature, but basically to have a good time. However, a paramilitary group has chosen the same time to go camping. When one of the soldiers thinks their boss has been killed by one of the city slickers, he coaxes his team into exterminating all of them. They will have to rely on their wits and on each other in order to survive. Written by
Steve Richer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
An Easy Video near me was going out of business, and selling movies cheap, so I raided the place and amongst some other cheesy, just for the hell of it bought movies, I picked this up, recognizing names such as Lance Henrikson (Pumpkinhead), Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend's Wedding), and Catherine Keener (8MM). With somewhat low expectations, I watched the film this afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised.
Henrikson plays Hank, a guide for Survival Quest, testing people's abilities in the wildnerness. The group he is given this time includes a convict, a divorced woman, an older man, and others. He leads them into nature, forcing them to rely on courage, wits, and strength to survive. Also venturing into the woods is a paramilitary group, an extreme version of the Survival Quest group.
The main characters are led through the woods, up mountains, across rivers, deeper and deeper into the wild. They begin to get to know each other, and work together as a team. A constant threat is the military group, who don't look fondly upon Survival Quest. Then one day Gray, the convict (Mulroney) and one of the military trainees meet up in a life-threatening confrontation. Trying to break it up, Hank is shot accidentally by trainee. Gray escapes, and the trainee sets up the scene as to appear as if Hank were a threat, after the military leader, Jake (Rolston), gets involved and injured. Then a hunt is on, as the military trainees chase down the Survival Quest group with rifles and knives, in a bloodthirsty rage for vengeance.
The movie is so interesting because of the way it plays out. The action doesn't really start until about an hour in, but the film is in no way dull up to that point. In the first hour, we get to know and like the protagonists, as they overcome their fears and learn basic survival in the wilderness. In fact, by the time the action starts, you're content with the plot being about just this group taking the course. But then, when it starts to get really exciting, the movie gets even better, because the threat of any of these great characters getting killed is tragic, since we like them all so much. Personally, I thought the characters of Hal, the old man (Ben Hammer) and Cheryl, the divorced woman overcoming some ever-present weaknesses (Catherine Keener), were my favorites, though I liked all of them.
The actors all do great in their roles, each becoming likeable characters and strong in each way. The action is great, as well. One scene, when the escaping group need to cross a raging river, with the paramilitary group close behind, is almost unbearable in the suspense. One good thing about this is that the plot never loses itself in mindless violence. The violence is focused and part of the story, and really, only occurs when necessary. For the most part, the action of the movie is more concerned with these characters escaping, and surviving. You never just let your brain go to sleep and watch mindless eye candy, and that's rare for action movies.
One last thing to note is the absolutely gorgeous setting in the Rocky Mountains. You never feel like you're watching a nature movie, but the setting is portrayed so breathtakingly well, and looks so great in every scene.
I definitely recommend this to action/adventure fans, but mostly to drama fans. The movie is thoroughly entertaining, and definitely worth a look if you can find it.
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