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Idris Elba takes battle with a lion on the African plain, in this surprisingly smart thriller from the director of Everest and Adrift.
The beast in question, a CGI creation that gives the similarly virtual tiger from Life of Pi a run for its money in terms of jaw-dropping verisimilitude, has good reason to feel aggrieved. A group of poachers slaughtered its pride and so the creature has a blanket vendetta against anything that walks on two legs. That means it’s not only the poachers whose lives lie in the balance. Nate Samuels (Elba) has brought daughters Mere (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries) on a safari in an attempt to reconnect with them. But his idea of an up-close-and-personal encounter with nature goes wildly awry when the big cat has them in its sights.
Baltasar Kormákur is a filmmaker with a lean directorial style and a fascination with physical extremes. He’s perfectly suited to the material, but what he and writer Ryan Engle bring to a much-derided genre – whose past examples run the gamut from the masterful Jaws to the woeful Roar and supremely silly Anaconda – is emotional depth and engagement with environmental issues. The latter never dominates, but gives the film an intelligence often missing from the run-of-the-mill humans-in-peril narrative. The result is a perfect white-knuckle thrill ride, with Elba one of the only actors who can convincingly take on a lion and, in true Hollywood style, stand a chance of winning!