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The Grey Review

The Grey (15)

Reviewed by Rachel Geeson

Score: 4/5

The Grey is a 2012 American thriller drama film directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson. Writer/director Joe Carnahan ( The A-Team) has turned a new leaf in this harrowing wilderness survival thriller.

Liam Neeson, who everyone is coming to know as the man from Taken (2008), was remarkable; Liam has always been a great and amazing actor, but this movie really shows that he can do something different. Most of the early indicators in the film give you the sense that Neeson will do his usual solemn-faced hero routine that he executes to perfection.

Liam plays John Ottway who is a contracted sniper, in Alaska, whose job is to protect oil rig workers from wolf attacks. He respects the animal enough to know its dangers. His fellow humans he has much less admiration for, at least the ones he works with. On a routine flight to return to civilization the plane crashes literally in the middle of nowhere. Whoever did the sound for this film did a fantastic job as it makes you feel like you’re really there.  When you see the crash victims and the survivors, the real fear hits in. He finds out in the worst way possible that the plane has crashed in the world of the wolf, and they happen to be close to their den. He’s far from a boy scout, however, and he’s emotionally wounded by the fact that his wife has left him.Having some knowledge of the animal, but not much else he scrambles to live and protect what is left of humanity in this unforgiving reality. The survivors try to cope as well as you or I could, and we are along for every terrifyingly tense moment.

The Grey is real, raw and slightly scary film.  It could just be considered as another film in which a group of jeopardized people die one at a time en route to finding safety. However,  Joe Carnahan slows down that pace so that we can absorb the extent of the danger and imagine ourselves in it. When death does occur, it’s visually striking, jaw-dropping.

Only one character, Diaz (Frank Grillo) gets a stereotype as the stubborn self-centered jerk who disagrees with Ottway on purpose. Most movies would’ve killed him off before he got too annoying, but Joe Carnahan and co-writer Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (who wrote the short story the film’s based on), have more interesting plans in store for him.

The Grey is much more of a suspenseful drama with high-adrenaline scenes lurking around every corner. The action is also more frenetic and gripping. Rather than shooting the action scenes in a traditional sense, he wants the viewer to feel as if they are experiencing them along with the characters. If a character falls from a tree top and hits 20 branches on the way down, that’s exactly what the camera’s doing. This maximizes the intensity of every major sequence. As for the wolves, they’re horrifying, yet never painted as the bad guys. They’re just part of nature.

The movie is still quite fantastic despite its depressing tone, and even if the ending isn’t quite what we’d anticipate, there’s enough of a sense of finality in it that it seems reasonable.  If you’re looking for an exciting, edge of your seat film then The Grey is for you and it’s a good way to kick off a new year of cinema.

 

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Categories: Film Reviews
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