Fourteen-year-old David (Josh Wiggins) lives in Texas, and only sees his father about once a year. This year he will be spending his Thanksgiving break with Cal (Matt Bomer) in the snowy mountains of Montana. Cal has been tracking a large moose for weeks in preparation for the annual father-son outing. Cal grew up in these mountains and went hunting with his own father, Clyde (Bill Pullman), as a child. When he was David’s age, he made his first kill, and is eager to pass along his knowledge and this rite of passage to his own son.
As the father and son reunite at the airport, it’s clear that they don’t have a lot in common. David is glued to his smartphone, while Cal is a bit gruff and enjoys the simpler things in life. As the two embark into the cold wilderness, Cal tries to connect with his son, imparting his knowledge of tracking, hunting and survival on David. At first David is a bit uncomfortable and doesn’t seem to want to be there, but he eventually starts to loosen up and fully embrace the experience. However, when an unexpected accident causes Cal to be seriously injured, David must put everything his father just taught him into practice if there is any chance of them making back alive, and not succumb to the elements or wild animals.
Walking Out doesn’t have a large cast. In fact, most of the film is just Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins, both of whom do a pretty phenomenal job. Both of their characters really grow over the course of the film. The first half of the film is more on the dramatic side, and primarily focuses on Cal, who is trying to connect with a son he hardly knows, while also dealing with thoughts of mortality and some sad memories from his own past. We learn about the relationship Cal had with his own father through flashbacks as he recounts these stories to his own son. Once Cal has his accident, the tension really picks up and the focus of the film switches to David, who is now thrust in charge. Not only does he need to attend to his father’s wounds, but he must do things he never thought he was capable of in order to help the two of them survive.
Walking Out takes the viewer on an emotional ride along with Cal and David—there are some really tense moments and some surprising turns. When the film starts off, the relationship between this father and son is quite cold and distant, but by the end you really get a sense of the deep love and appreciation Cal and David have for one another, and you start to feel this emotion as well. For the most part I really enjoyed this film. Cal and David are interesting, well-developed characters, the film explores an emotional story, and there is some exciting tension. If I have any complaints, it would be with the flashback sequences—I don’t think these were necessarily needed, or could have been used a little more sparingly. They would sometimes take me out of the moment of the film, or were a little too surreal or ethereal.
Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release is a mixed bag when it comes to the visual presentation. There are some absolutely breathtaking scenes of the snow-covered mountains, and most of the picture looks quite clean and detailed. However, there are also some scenes that are excessively grainy, such as an exterior shot at dusk early on in the film, as well as many of the flashback scenes. At first I thought they were going for a certain visual style with the flashbacks, but the over-saturated, grainy look was inconstant—there were some flashback scenes that looked just as crisp and pristine as the main movie. The audio, on the other hand, consistently provides clear dialogue and makes nice use of the surround channel to help provide the ambiance of being out in the open nature.
The Blu-ray also includes a small assortment of bonus features, including 7 deleted scenes, a 3-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with the cast, and the film’s trailer. The disc comes packed in a standard HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.40:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Stereo 2.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Deleted Scenes (13:21)
Collection of 7 deleted scenes. I think it was a wise decision to pull some of these scenes—the film is actually better off without some of them. The first few scenes give an explanation as to why Cal is late to the airport, and David’s arrival at his fathers home and the two of them catching up/bonding. Without these scenes, the relationship between Cal and David at the start of the film appears much colder, and makes a better contrast for their relationship later in the film.
- Behind The Scenes — Made in Montana (2:51)
Co-writer/co-director Alex Smith and the actors talk about filming on location in Montana. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Bill Pullman (Clyde), Matt Bomer (Cal), Josh Wiggins (David), Alex Neustaedter (Young Cal) and Lila (Lily Gladstone).
- Theatrical Trailer (2:33)
Walking Out provides an entertaining, emotion-filled exploration of an estranged father and son learning to bond with one another while dealing with their own demons from the past. This turns into a more tense (though no less emotional) tale of survival, all taking place in a beautiful wilderness setting. The Blu-ray picture has a few excessively grainy moments, but nothing that detracts from the overall enjoyment. The disc also contains a small but entertaining pair of bonus features. This release is worth checking out for the stellar lead performances alone.