A plane filled with passengers, headed "home" - wherever that may be - from Alaska. A crash; leaving six survivors total. A wasteland covered in snow and ice; the air riddled with only the cold. The surrounding areas belong to the wolves; and the lives of those unfortunate souls stuck there belong to nature. This situation is scary on its own, and the only thing scarier than this, in my opinion, is a lone man faced with similar struggles. But this is clearly not a movie in which one person hogs the screen; although it may be one where there remains only a single survivor of the ordeal-to-come.
"The Grey" is a good movie about bad - often times terrible - things. I have already described to you the basic premise of the film, and going in, that's just about all you need to know. If the synopsis implies that this is a film you predict shall entertain and engage you; then have at it. But beware; this is a not the kind of film that dons a happy ending, or happy characters - only happy moments, and even those are relatively short.
The survivors are John Ottoway (Liam Neeson), Todd Flannery (Joe Anderson), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), Burke (Nonso Anozie), and Lewenden (James Badge Dale). They are all complete strangers to one-another, although it's implied that perhaps certain members within this party have seen other members before. That doesn't matter; most are willing to cooperate given the circumstances that they face: death, separation, starvation, cannibalism, and of course, the damn wolves.
In fact, common phobias of the cold such as frostbite are put on the backburner to make room for the four-legged fiends. These nasty dogs taunt the protagonists by lingering in the dark - always somewhere nearby - striking, and leaving a fatal wound after doing so. Some survive the attacks; just as others do not. But you'd better believe that, given this is a film starring Liam Neeson, the characters will all do their part to try and fight back against the forces of nature.
They intend to do the wolves one worse than the animals would do to them; using the resources all around them to create weapons and at one point, even a fire - which is used to embrace the victory of their first wolf kill. For those who might be just a little bit concerned; this is sometimes a brutal and relentless vision of survival. When the wolves come, there will be blood; although the filmmakers spare us the sight of seeing all the gory, graphic details, although the sound effects that accompany each kill will probably be enough for some people. Other than the wolves, these people are surrounded by potential danger; and death comes in all its forms.
The film was directed by Joe Carnahan, who hasn't made a film this good in a while, although he hasn't exactly made that many films at all. Nevertheless, this is a pleasant surprise; the kind of taut, impressive mixture of suspense, disturbance, and philosophy that I like to see out of modern cinema, yet seldom do. Carnahan, alas, has found a story that works for him; a story that he can tell not only through the fine print, but also through the visualization of his snow-covered locations. The film makes great use of atmospheric, lingering, haunting, foreboding shots of the mountainous regions belonging to the area in which these six men trudge through day-by-day. It also makes genuinely good use of scenes involving survival tactics. There are scenes that are kind of frightening - just about all the wolf scenes, as well as one involving drowning in an ice-cold river - and there are also scenes that are kind of ridiculous (the one where the remaining survivors decide to jump by rope off a cliff and onto some trees in order to successfully reach the nearby river). This tale of survival isn't going to appeal to everyone, but for what it is, I thought it was bloody well solid.
Exciting, thrilling, and almost flawlessly intense; "The Grey" is not, indeed, a flawless movie, but it's still a very entertaining one. It isn't entertaining, however, in the "popcorn" sense; but it does keep you engaged, whether you like that feeling or not. To me, it's one of an early 2012 surprise; I wasn't sure if Carnahan had enough ability to successfully stretch out his concept into a full-blown movie with a respectable plot (with equally as exceptional characters); but he did just fine. His screenplay may not have the emotional core that it aims for - or the complex set of characters that it wants - but it wants to thrill us and perhaps even scare us; and for most people, that's exactly what it will do. It delivers on its promises; nothing more, nothing less. It is worthy of praise on its own right.
We’ve all seen a good number of ‘survival’ films the past two decades. I mean, it seems to be the kind of film that studios feel that it is the kind of thing that would be easy to make a quick buck. I mean, films like those often involve a lot of wandering, walking and a lot of interaction between characters. It is kind of a man vs. the environment kind of deal and director Joe Carnahan seems poised to follow in the footsteps of such a film. Well, “The Grey” does have … more
Star Rating: The Grey is a deplorable example of exploitation, cruelty, and nihilism masquerading as philosophy. Here is a “survivalist” story in which the survivors are given the same reverence as horror movie victims, who appear to have depth and yet are merely awaiting their turn to die on cue. Not merely die, but become playthings for “nature,” which in this case is about as unnatural as it gets. It’s bad enough we have to endure … more
By Joan Alperin Schwartz It takes a lot for a film to truly scare me. I mean, after seeing hundreds and hundreds of movies featuring, knife wielding masked maniacs, cannablistic nuclear families preying on hot teenage girls and demon possessed embroyos, I've become kind of blaise about the horror genre. So many horror films are derative of one another. But I'm happy to say...this is definitely … more
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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R-bloody images, violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language
Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements – and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt – before their time runs out.