Based on a short story by American author David Quammen, Walking Out is a father-son movie produced by Alex and Andrew Smith that takes place in Montana’s Crazy Mountains. David (Josh Wiggins) is a urban teenager spending time in the wilderness with his dad, Cal (Matt Bomer), for a hunting trip. As they start their adventure, Cal finds it hard to connect with his son, but a terrible accident will quickly change the dynamic between the two. As they fight for survival in extreme winter conditions, their relationship leads to mutual growth.
On opposite sides, father and son have to work together to create memories in a technologically connected world that lacks in creating deep, meaningful connections. When David visits Cal, he has to adapt to his father primitive masculine style. Cal, on the other hand, just wants to pass on family traditions through outdoors activities, and eventually create a father-son memory that will stay with David forever. Independent of what the two believe, being alone together creates a connection they did not predict.
The movie was shot almost entirely in the Crazy Mountains. The heavy snow during the movie’s production added some challenge to the project, but it paid off, for the shots in the snow are in accordance to what is going on with our main characters. In the past, when Cal has a problem with his own dad, snow falls to cover an already cold ground. In the present, the snow starts melting as Cal and David seem to start figuring each other out. The weather intensifies the extreme situation they find themselves in, but also plays a beautiful role in the drama.
On that note, Walking Out also stars Bill Pullman in flashback scenes as Cal’s father. The passing of family traditions between fathers highlights the idea of generational masculinity, where fathers take their sons into the wilderness expecting a coming of age experience. For Cal, that experience stayed with him to adulthood, so he believes that passing it on to David is essential to his growth.
The father-son endeavors in the cold, isolated Montanan backcountry is at the center of the narrative, but to talk about Walking Out and not mention the outstanding landscapes surrounding Cal and David is to forget that to live in Montana is to live inside a National Geographic magazine. In Walking Out, human nature becomes as raw as it gets to remind the audience that, more than hunters, humans are also easy prey for life.
Director: Andrew J. Smith, Alex Smith
Screenplay: Alex & Andrew Smith, from a story by David Quammen
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Running Time: 1h 37m