I went into this film never even having heard of it, and I finished the film thoroughly enjoying it. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), is a wildlife conservation officer soon turned into a criminal investigator in a pretty large case. When Cory arrives on the reservation it is just a normal task for him to go out and protect the livestock from a mountain lion. This all changes when Cory stumbles upon the dead body of young Natalie. With a phone call to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we are introduced to Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Jane quickly realizes that Natalie was raped, and demands the coroner to rule her death as a homicide. She also realizes how useful Cory could be to here on investigating the case, and quickly draws him into helping. In the end, the question still remains, who truly is the hero?
I automatically thought that Jane would end up being the hero simply because she was the FBI agent, as well as fitting most of Campbell’s hero’s journey. Her call to adventure is the call from the local sheriff department requesting an agent for a possible homicide. In the scene where Jane arrives, Ben, Martin, and Cory begin to mock her clothing as she attempts to go with Cory out into the snowstorm in a pantsuit and her FBI jacket, this we could see as her refusal of the call, as she gives the attitude right back to them and I believe threatens to leave. It isn’t until Cory and Jane are at the crime scene that we truly see that Cory serves as the mentor, showing Jane minors details and teaching her things she may not have known otherwise such as when Natalie was running and breathing in the negative degree weather at such a fast pace she had a pulmonary embolism (shown by the spot where she fell and began to cough up blood), and that up until that point she had been running but crawled to the spot where she indeed died. Cory also points out that there are snowmobile tracks leaving the house of Natalie’s brother and his druggie friends.
Jane is put to the test when she and the fellow deputies are surrounding Matt’s house, and end up being shot by Pete, she has to fight for her life and she crawls and hides away in the snow under the trailer. This leads us to her almost death, where thankfully she is saved by Cory, and this brings us to the reward of Pete and the rest of the guilty men being killed. Finally, we reach the road back to the ordinary world as we leave Jane healing in a hospital bed.
And then there is Cory, with his call to adventure being the job to kill the mountain lion to protect the livestock and the people on the reservation. He quickly refuses that call when he receives a new call, to help investigate the murder of Natalie, his late daughters best friend. I would have to say that to Cory, Jane is the mentor in this journey. As well as Jane, Cory is put to the test as he is the one to go up into the mountains time and time again to discover if anything new has come to light (for example: finding Matt’s body, and the track leading back to the trailer where Pete is living), as well as being the one to get Natalie’s brother talking about her boyfriend, realizing that the brother indeed was an ally.
As sickening as it may sound, the reward for Cory I think was making Pete suffer the same way that Natalie did, after being raped. I think it was Cory’s way for making justice be served, not just for Natalie but also in a way maybe for his daughter, Emily. Another possible reward for Cory was being able to save Jane in the end. And again, we reach the road back to the ordinary world as we see Cory reading out of a magazine to Jane, trying not to think about all that has happened.
Personally, I still cannot decide who the true hero is, I would love to hear your thoughts on if it is Cory or Jane!