Rowan (James Marsden) returns to his home town at the request of the partner of a tracker who has gone missing in the woods. His brother, Beckett (Thomas Jane), is now a cop and is wary of his jailbird brethren turning up out of the blue. Beckett’s partner, Michelle (Piper Perabo), is a conservationist who is photographing wildlife in the woods. Add to this heady mix a rogue grizzly bear that is not one that is being tracked with a GPS collar and is killing both humans and other wildlife, and you’ve got a recipe for a Jaws sequel… sorry, disaster.
There is also a hunter, Douglas (Billy Bob Thornton), and the local Sherriff (Scott Glenn) who is receiving backhanders for allowing hunters to illegally hunt the bears, and Michelle is also deaf, by the way.
The main problem with the film is that even with a damn fine cast and a plotline stolen pretty much straight from 1975, it’s a bit of a jumbled mess.
Backstories are either rushed or just forgotten; characters are given little to do except argue and run except Perabo, who can just run or sign excitedly. There doesn’t seem to be any real purpose for her character to be deaf. Douglas is clearly supposed to be a Quint-like character, but he rings his performance in, and Glenn seems to be rehashing his moments onscreen from Backdraft.
The CGI near the end is deplorable and makes the final battle laughable. If there was an extra ten minutes or so added on to the running time to fill out a few unresolved issues, including the hunters that are with the tracker Johnny Cadillac at the beginning, then we’d have a halfway decent movie.
As it is, it feels rushed. Normally if the action kicks straight in, as a viewer you’re happy, but there is no set up here, no real juxtaposition. Even the opening scene with Rowan and Beckett as children feels unrelated when it should leave you feeling empathy for their characters and maybe able to understand why they grew apart into very different lives.
Hackl has one other major title in his directing belt – Saw 5 – need we say more?
A real missed opportunity here. Not so much hair-raising as hairball.
INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAVID HACKL / SCREENPLAY: GUY MOSHE, J.R. REHER / STARRING: JAMES MARSDEN, THOMAS JANE, PIPER PERABO, BILLY BOB THORNTON, SCOTT GLENN / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 17TH