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Tuesday, October 27,2009

Payoff never comes in 'The Canyon'

By Cary Darling

When newlyweds in movies insist on taking their honeymoon in wild, isolated places, bad things always happen. But maybe Nick (Eion Bailey) and Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) have never been to a multiplex because they do exactly that in The Canyon, in which their trek into a remote part of the Grand Canyon with an unlicensed guide turns into a survival nightmare.

Handsomely shot by director Richard Harrah and cinematographer Nelson Cragg in Arizona and Utah and featuring energetic performances by Bailey and especially Strahovski, The Canyon is undermined by the expectation of a big payoff that never comes.

Things start to go badly for our good-looking, plucky couple when their crusty guide, Henry (Will Patton), is attacked and killed by two rattlesnakes. Left on their own to try and hike back to civilization, city folks Nick and Lori discover that they don't need a guy with a chainsaw chasing them. Nature is their ultimate villain: craggy cliffs, hungry animals, circling vultures, oh my. Not to mention, there's the whole ripped-from-the-headlines, amputating-a-limb thing that is the film's squeamish highlight.

Still, despite the best efforts of Bailey and Strahovski, Harrah's visual eye, and some well-trained wolves, it all comes across as survival-film cliches. There's not a lot of suspense as the couple and the movie trudge tortuously to the conclusion, where the ultimate message is, guys, next time opt for a time share in Manhattan.

The Canyon

2 stars (out of 5)

R (disturbing content, scene of amputation); 102 min.

Cary Darling reviews movies for McClatchy Newspapers.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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