It’s a shame that “Into the Grizzly Maze” didn’t get a wider release, because while the cast is strong, director David Hackl delivers a very strong survival thriller. I’m not going to claim it a masterpiece, but for what it promises, it’s a damn solid action adventure that’s set against the backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. Much like “The Edge,” it’s mainly a movie about men confronting their personal demons while battling a giant ferocious and cunning bear that has decided it’s had enough with humanity. After illegally poaching a bunch of bears, a rogue bear has decided to strike down any and all intruders, and begins slaughtering conniving hunters and officers alike.
Rowan has just come back to his home town after a stint in jail and runs across his older brother, Deputy Beckett, who is not just a law enforcer, but a nature lover. His wife is a deaf conservationist (The always adorable Piper Perabo) who is hell bent on preserving the bear population. But things take a turn for the worse when the rogue bear begins roaming the wilderness looking for victims. When the sheriff (Scott Glenn) unleashes a merciless hunter (Billy Bob Thorton) to track down and murder the bear, Rowan and Beckett race to track down and stop the bear. They’re met with constant obstacles including the elements, the harsh landscape, and of course the bear, who begins to turn the tables on everyone that tries to stalk and stop it. “In to the Grizzly Maze” really dives head first in to the survival sub-genre bringing along a pretty stellar cast.
I really liked the team up Thomas Jane and James Marsden as wilderness savvy brothers that seek the bear out and soon find out it’s by no means a misunderstood beast. There’s the injection of mystical themes and global warming present with the idea that the bear may be the vengeful spirit of mother nature, but those themes are inexplicably side stepped. That said, I really did care about the characters and wanted to see how they’d ultimately stop this massive bear. A lot of blood soaked carnage is inflicted by the beast as it takes no prisoners. There’s a particularly disturbing scene where it massacres a female deputy investigating an abandoned car. By then it’s made painfully clear that execution is the only option left for it. David Hackl’s direction is solid with a lot of the sweeping landscapes complimenting the narrative. The woods vary from menacing to beautiful quite often, and the imminent threat of the wildlife is always present. All in all, I had a really good time with “Into the Grizzly Maze.” It’s a well acted, and often engrossing survival adventure with the classic themes of man battling beast.