The Call of the Wild is a 2020 American adventure film based on the Jack London 1903 novel of the same name and Twentieth Century Pictures' previous 1935 film adaptation. The film is directed by Chris Sanders, in his live-action directorial debut, written by Michael Green, and stars Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Woodell.
It was released on February 21, 2020 by 20th Century Studios.
During the late 19th century Gold Rush, Buck, a large, gentle St. Bernard/Scotch Collie, lives contentedly with his master, Judge Miller in Santa Clara, California. One night, Buck is abducted and shipped to the Yukon aboard a freighter. During the voyage, a crew member ill-treats him. After arriving, Buck returns a dropped harmonica to a man named John Thornton, moments before being sold to Perrault and his assistant, Francoise. They use a dog sled to deliver mail across the Yukon. Perrault hopes to make the long trek to the mail depot before the deadline. Buck is introduced to the other dogs, including the vicious pack leader, a Husky named Spitz.
Throughout their travels, Buck gains the loyalty and trust of Francoise and the other sled dogs, antagonizing Spitz. Buck begins experiencing ancestral spiritual visions: a black wolf that acts as his guide throughout their travels. One night, Buck catches then releases a rabbit. Spitz kills it, then attacks Buck to assert his dominance. Buck pins him down, displacing Spitz as pack leader, who disappears into the wild. Perrault grudgingly makes Buck the lead when no other dog assumes the position. Buck's speed and strength allow the sled to arrive to deposit the mail on time. There, Thornton hands over a letter he has written to his former wife expressing his feeling about their dead son. When Perrault returns, he learns the mail route is being replaced by the telegraph, forcing him to sell the dogs. Hal, a corrupt wealthy man, buys the pack, working them to exhaustion carrying a heavy load in weather unsuitable for sledding.
The exhausted dogs stop to rest before Hal can force them to cross an unstable frozen lake. When Buck refuses to move, Hal threatens to shoot him. Thornton appears and rescues Buck while Hal forces the other sled dogs to cross the lake. Under Thornton's care, Buck recovers. Later, at a bar, Thornton is attacked by Hal, who reveals the dogs abandoned him. Witnessing the scene, Buck attacks Hal. Buck and Thornton then travel beyond the Yukon map where they can freely live in the wild. They come across an abandoned cabin in an open valley and settle in. Meanwhile, Hal relentlessly hunts them, believing Thornton is hiding gold.
In the open wilderness, Thornton and Buck bond over their daily activities, primarily fishing and gold panning. Throughout their time together, Buck is drawn to a female white wolf. Going back and forth between Thornton and the white wolf, Buck is conflicted by his domesticated life with Thornton and his place with the wolf pack that the female belongs to. Thornton believes it is time to return home and tells Buck he is leaving in the morning, and to come and say good-bye. Buck heads into the forest and sleeps beside the white wolf, clearly conflicted. Hal subsequently finds and mortally shoots Thornton. Buck returns and kills Hal, pushing him into the cabin, which has caught on fire. Thornton, dying, wants Buck to live for himself. He embraces him and reassures him with his final words: "It's okay, boy. You're home."
The next morning, Buck returns to the wilderness. There, he mates and has offspring with the white wolf and becomes the pack leader, fully embracing the call of the wild.
- Harrison Ford as John Thornton
- Dan Stevens as Hal
- Omar Sy as Perrault
- Karen Gillan as Mercedes
- Bradley Whitford as Judge Miller
- Colin Woodell as Charles
- Cara Gee as Françoise
- Scott MacDonald as Dawson
Actor and stunt coordinator Terry Notary stood-in for the CGI creation of Buck, whose model was scanned after an adopted dog.
The Call of the Wild received average reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, The film has a score of 61% based on 148 reviews with an average score of 6/10.