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The Grey Is An Intense Action Adventure

The Grey
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Written by Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers from his short story “Ghost Walker”
Open Road, 2012

Liam Neeson returns to kick ass in the Winter, this time in a wintry setting.  His last ass-kicking movies from the Winter season include Taken and Unknown, surprise hits that made Neeson a go-to action guy, a weightier, more credible Jason Statham.  Neeson’s solemn Irish brogue generally makes everything sound weighty and more credible.

Here, he re-teams with Joe Carnahan, who directed The A-Team and cult favorite Smokin’ Aces, but appeared to be on a slightly headier track after his debut film Narc hit theatres.  Here, Carnahan returns to the style that made him a prospective go-to director, a movie that is parts The Edge and Alive.  I have a feeling that ultimately audiences are going to be mixed on this because of where the movie ends, but everything is so solid up until then (and I really like how it ends), that it would be a shame if people leave this discounting what they saw for 2 hours.

In The Grey, we follow Ottway (Neeson), who is a rifleman for wolves that might attack oil drilling teams out in the wild.  He gets on a plane with a team heading out to a new location when it crashes in the middle of nowhere, leaving many dead.  The survivors (including Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Nonso Anozie, and Joe Anderson) now have to find a way out of the remote area, but they’ve crashed right into a wolf den.  The wolves plan on attacking each living member, reducing their numbers, until all of them lie dead.

Luckily they have someone who knows a thing or two about wolves, although…no weapons.  The crew has to navigate their way, avoiding wolves, who attack without warning many times, but even with warning it’s pretty terrifying.  Ottway is haunted by his dead wife (something that is personal to Neeson, who lost his wife Natasha Richardson three years ago) and has been on a depressing track since then, seemingly headed for a reunion with his wife.

The action in this is extremely intense–wolf attacks are brutal and swift and come in packs.  I thought one attack in particular was really effective, when you see them nonchalantly enter the picture behind one of the characters, who is clearly doomed, and starts running out of instinct but realizes there’s no way he’s going to survive.  There are great scenes with Neeson showing off some great acting skill.  There is no doubt he is the leader of this group, the leader of this movie.

The Grey is quality action adventure filmmaking, and rounds out one of the best Januarys in memory.

Luckily for the survivors, Ottway


Comment from Jonathan
Time: January 30, 2012, 12:18 am

I absolutely loved the hell out of this movie, and I also loved the last shot. Took a lot of balls to end it that way, but I think it was the only way it could end. The problem is not with the movie, but with yet another, in a long line, of misleading trailers. “Haywire,” I believe, suffered from the same problem. However, I think “The Grey” will fare better at the box office because it is still much more accesible as a genre picture than “Haywire” is. That’s no knock on a “Haywire” personally; I loved that film as well. Best January ever as far as I’m concerned (at least since I paid attention to when movies were released so since 1991 or so).

Liam Neeson is fantastic in this, and I will be shocked if he is not one of the five best male performances at the end of the year. Mind you, the January date will have him kicked out of Oscar contention (which is annoying), but I’m sure it will be heavily debated. The other actors were good as well, and I thought the characters were very well written and given quite a bit of depth for this kind of set-up. It reminded me a lot in tone of John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” but with wolves instead of an alien. Just a really kick-ass film on so many levels.

Also, on another note, I saw the preview for “Lockout.” April 20th cannont come fast enough.

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