A welcome early 90s vibe elevates this solid thriller featuring what feels like Angelina Jolie's first big leading role - outside of the Maleficent movies - in some time.
She plays Hannah Faber, a discharged Montana forest firefighter who remains haunted by a deadly incident. Assigned to a remote fire tower, she encounters young teen Connor (Finn Little), who has just seen his whistle-blower dad executed by two hitmen played by Nicholas Hoult and Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones).
As the hitmen attempt to flush out the witness by starting a forest fire, the local sheriff (Jon Bernthal) and his wife (Medina Senghore) get caught up in the fray.
Hannah's flashback-heavy characterisation is rather rote - we've seen this reckless, guilt-ridden protagonist a million times before, but Jolie sells it. And although she is clearly the lead, the film spends just as much time with various textured supporting characters, who are often more interesting than the ostensible hero.
Bernthal, always good value, makes a meal of the "small-town Sheriff out of his depth" trope. Gillen and Hoult's cool, steely professionalism had me longing for a time when these types of resourceful, remorseless assassins permeated mainstream cinema.
Indeed, the whole affair harkens back to a kind of serious 90s action thriller that you rarely see these days. Although it may not the most remarkable example ever presented, it's just nice to behold a film like this on the big screen, and it gets the job done.
The firefighter/smoke jumper angle is a novel point of difference, even it sometimes feels a bit wedged into the story.
There's a low-key authenticity at play that keeps this humming, at least until a bombastic denouement that falls curiously flat and leaves key questions unanswered. Still, worth a gander.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Tyler Perry
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Running time: 100 minutes
Verdict: Enjoyable throwback ensemble thriller.