The honeymoon doesn't last long in "The Canyon."
Hint to newlyweds: Don't honeymoon in a primeval wilderness populated by diamondback rattlesnakes, aggressive wolves and alcoholic wilderness guides. If Nick (Eion Bailey) and Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) had booked a quaint bike trip through Tuscany instead of a Grand Canyon trek, all of us would have been spared the ordeal of "The Canyon."
The just-married couple arrive in Arizona startled to learn that all the season's hiking permits are taken. When salty old desert rat Henry (Will Patton) offers to lead them on a tour regardless, the young lovers don't see the red flags that are so clear to the audience. This will be another Vacation From Hell.
The trip starts well enough, but tenderfoot adventurers have a way of starting trouble. Henry, a resourceful and experienced old coot, has a solution for every problem and a colorful saying for every occasion. He's not with the couple for the entire journey, however, and when they are on their own, their troubles multiply like jack rabbits. With cell phone service unreliable at the bottom of a vast gorge, and medical help a citified luxury, the pair are soon looking survival right in its bloodshot, beady eyes.
Even before the wolves begin to circle, the unhappy couple go through experiences that test the promise of loyalty in sickness and health to the point of fracture. They find themselves in a "Saw"-style dilemma requiring some horrific work with a Bowie knife.
Bailey is an improbably handsome male model type; Strahovski (of TV's "Chuck") is a plucky looker in the Naomi Watts mold. Beautiful as they are, they can hardly compete with the scenery. It's Patton's grizzled old codger who tosses the whole show in his mule pack and rides off into the sunset. Note to filmmakers: When you have a character as full of vinegar and tobacco juice as this one, keep him around for the whole movie.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186