Film Review: The Grey

Film:  The Grey
Joe Carnahan
Starring:  Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, etc.
Release Date:  01/27/12 (theatres) / n/a (DVD)
Studio:  Liddell Entertainment
Tagline:  Live or die on this day
Plot:  “After their plane crashes in Alaska, seven oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.” (Source: IMDB)

Review Score:  4 / 5

Director Joe Carnahan teams up with Liam Neeson to create a fast-paced, suspenseful film with, of all things,….wolves.  Carnahan, director of past hits like Narc (2002), Smokin’ Aces (2006) and his most recent A-Team (2010) adaptation, knows how to pump testosterone and action into almost every scene.  His use of wind and weather as an added element to the wolves brings a realism to the situation at hand for Ottway (Neeson) and his surviving group of men.  In fact, the conditions shown on-screen are not CGI, but actual weather in British Columbia, Canada where shooting took place for the film.  This is a familiar and comfortable territory for Neeson, having starred in his acclaimed role in Taken.  The haunting flashback images of his wife may have appealed to Neeson himself, given the tragic incident with his own wife in real life, Natasha Richardson (she died unexpectedly in 2009 after a skiing injury/accident).

What works for The Grey is the horror and suspense elements throughout.  Carnahan, whom also wrote the screenplay, gives each character their own identity and uniqueness.  Neeson is the ‘leader of the pack’, a tough-as-nails hard ass who is a survivalist and pushes the oil men forward.  This added emphasis on character development puts the film on an above-average plane.  The wolves themselves are larger than life, smart and aren’t too keen on playing nice.  The scene where Ottway and the group stumble into five pair of eyes staring back at them in the darkness is spooky and brilliant.

However, the film isn’t without it’s detractors.  A majority of the script has excessive cursing, whether it’s in a dangerous or joyous situation.  The typical Hollywood formula of killing off characters one at a time is present, but at least exist some interesting sound and editing effects done to balance the somewhat predictable plotline out.  Finally, there is some grotesque violence on display here.  Bodies pile up and are discovered after the flight crash, wolves tearing apart men swiftly…without regard for viewers’ watching, and accidents galore.  These are not deal breakers by any means…The Grey is a harrowing experience.  The scenes where Ottway goes through the men’s wallets, looking at photos, brings calming emotion to an otherwise bleak tale.

The biggest thing the film does is plug viewers into that very situation, and asks them: would you have what it takes to survive?  (Author’s note: Honestly, I don’t know if I would.)  As Ottway’s wife always reminds you, “don’t be afraid.”

Film Poster Source:  (c) 2012

The Grey 2012 Official Film Trailer – YouTube
The Grey DVD –

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