‘Daughter of the Wolf’ Review: Snow, Ice, and Dramatic Inertia

The former mixed martial artist Gina Carano, who once made such an impression in Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 action film “Haywire,” and has done solid work in several blockbusters since, seems, at least on paper, ideally suited for the snowbound thriller “Daughter of the Wolf.” She plays a desperate veteran trying to save her son from a group of backwoods kidnappers led by a grizzled Richard Dreyfuss; the idea of the intensely physical Carano charging through a harsh landscape remorselessly kicking butt is fairly delicious to contemplate.

Alas, David Hackl’s film doesn’t give its gifted star much to do, despite a wealth of natural challenges and even one nifty car stunt early on. The movie is filled with ice and freezing water and cliffs and (of course) wolves, but they’re used in mostly unimaginative ways — less as organic obstacles and more as plot contrivances and filler.

Hackl and the writer Nika Agiashvili provide minimal dramatic context; we learn little about our protagonist, and even less about the exact reasons of the kidnapping. Such spareness might have worked marvelously had the film demonstrated any style, immediacy, or invention. But with facile plotting — you could fashion a pretty deadly drinking game out of all the scenes in which someone gets knocked out, or is conveniently left for dead — and humdrum action, the lack of depth or dimension becomes fatal.

Daughter of the Wolf

Rated R for violence, child endangerment, and big, scary wolves. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.

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