In the opening sequence of this film a group of men from a Mayan village hunt and kill a tapir. It is a thrilling chase and at the end, as the spoils are divided amongst the men, we learn a lot about their characters and standing in this community. The next morning the village is ransacked by a group of soldiers looking for more men and women to be sacrificed in order to maintain the prosperity of the kingdom. A young man, Jaguar Paw, hides his pregnant wife and young son in a deep hole for safety but is captured along with others and marched off to the temple. When an eclipse saves him from being sacrificed at the altar it is then a desperate chase as he runs to save his life and that of his family.
This is one of the most visceral, compelling and violent films I have ever seen. Directed by Mel Gibson it has some of the bone crunching action he perfected in Braveheart but from nowhere he has brought us a film filled with the thumping heartbeat of the chase, the desperate need to keep living and the lengths which one man will go to and endure in order to preserve himself, his family, his whole way of life. It is not for the fainthearted and many might feel that Gibson seems to revel a little too much in showing the blood spurting, limb snapping detail of the violence but this is a high stakes film where the consequences of not missing that flying arrow or spear are painfully apparent. Extraordinary one-of-a-kind stuff.