The film begins with the hero, Cage’s quiet and introverted woodsman Rob, in a cabin with his pig, who is referred to only as Pig. We see them hunting for truffles together, and we watch Rob doting on Pig and cooking up mushrooms in a pan. Pig appears to have a knack for finding exquisite fungi. A younger man named Amir (Alex Wolff) shows up to buy a haul of truffles. We’re given to understand that Amir is Rob’s main source of income, but that he doesn’t need much because he’s committed to living off the grid, communing with nature and nursing a motherlode of grief over a woman. We don’t know how he lost her, only that he has audio recordings of her that he can’t bring himself to play.
And then Pig is kidnapped in the middle of the night, pulled out of the house squealing. Rob is anguished. He wants to go to the nearest big city, Portland, because he’s pretty sure that’s where she is and he has a vague idea of who might’ve taken her.
But if you’re expecting a rampage, you’d better find another movie. There’s a little bit of violence in this film. It’s unglamorous and brutal, and thus not easy to watch. But even though Cage’s shaggy man-mountain look evokes his star turn in 1997’s “Con Air,” this is not a revenge picture, or even much of an “action movie” per se—unless you count scenes where Rob, a soft-spoken but keenly observant man, verbally batters other people by saying things that strike them in a deep place. He’s not being abusive, just telling the truth as he sees it. But the impact is devastating.
We don’t know anything about Rob when the movie begins, nor do we know what kind of world “Pig” is set in. Is it a realistic universe like “Leave No Trace” or something stylized, like in the Wick films? More the former than the latter, although there are somewhat unreal or expressionistic elements.
The big one is the underground network of chefs, sous-chefs, restaurant owners, and food and equipment suppliers operating in and around Portland. This secret society appears to have a code, a history, and secrets. Rob was once a legendary part of it, until he dropped out for reasons that are not entirely cleared up by the movie’s end. Rob’s photographic memory comes in handy while trying to find Pig; in one scene, he identifies a maitre’d (David Knell) as somebody he worked with for exactly two months many long years ago. He reminds him of the fantasy restaurant he once described to Rob, and asks him whether he ever tried to make it happen.