In concept, this seems like a movie we have all seen before, in reality it's unlike anything you have ever seen. The tone of this movie is passion and grit wrapped in darkness and death. You feel what the characters are feeling, you understand their pain. There is also hope in this, hope to its bitter, frozen bones. Hope that they will make it back home to the people they care about. All of these elements of the film come together to make an orchestra of finely tuned emotional instruments. These people feel human, that's what makes this great; they aren't characters in a scene, they are real people with real emotions in real danger.
The wolves are the perfect "bad guy" material here with the truly expert hunting maneuvers they pull off against this group of weary humans who are hardly able to defend themselves. The wolves get many ominous shots of foggy mountain sides with howling in the background. Equally unsettling shots of their glowing eyes just beyond the fire light also haunt the screen. It makes for a very classic and creepy, yet also very real threat. The wolves are extremly opportunistic creatures, lashing out when the people are the most worn, distracted or injured.
Luckily the group has Ottway (Neeson) to lead them. He was hired by the oil company to shoot wolves that got too close to the drillers or pipeline builders. He respects and fears the wolves, knowing full well what they are capable of. Armed with only simply made survival tools and a letter he wrote to/about his wife, he must lead the group of men back home. Ottway is a very complex man from what we see of him in the movie. In the opening we see him put a gun in his mouth but draws back and musters his will. He leads these men out not for himself but because they remind him of the connection he once sharred with his wife. He feels deeply for the connections that other people have, for what he lost. He is a man with no real faith left but an iron will that pushes him onward. There is a moment in the movie I'd like you to visualize to get a small understanding of who he is. "(Looks to the sky) Show me a sign! Anything! Show me!! (After a long pause and no signs he stands up, grits his teeth and says) I'll just do it myself then."
Please go see this movie, as if your lives depended on it. Run to the theater! I can't imagine I will have many rise higher in my top 25 of 2012 than this one. I want to personally put my "worth paying theater price" stamp on this. I will give it a rewatch and let everyone know what the watchability is like later on as well. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think when you get the privilege of checking this one off!