Cast:Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Joe Anderson, James Badge Dale, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Nonso Anozie, Ben Bray
From dirty cops, overzealous hitmen, flying tanks, and now murderous wolves, director Joe Carnahan has had an interesting career the past decade and he really surprised me with The Grey. Not just because I liked it, but also because the film was actually quite different than how it was portrayed in trailers. While all the footage seemed to depict a really ballsy fast-paced survival pic, the movie itself was actually more of a moody survival drama, with brief spurts of action and thriller aspects now and then. It worked in it's favor, in my opinion.
The story revolves around Liam Neeson's character as a bit of a loner hunter, hired by a drilling company in Alaska to help keep the roaming wolves from attacking any of the workers while out in the open. It's now time to return home and Neeson, along with several dozen of the crew, board the plane to head back, but along the way encounter some mechanical failures, resulting in the thing crashing somewhere in the wilderness. With barely a handful of survivors left from the crash, the group soon discovers that it may not be the cold and lack of food that'll be the death of them, but in fact, may be the pack of wolves that feel the men are intruding on their territory...
I think many who go in expecting a fast-paced action survival pic will find the movie a bit disappointing, because right from the start Nesson's moody narration pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film. It's slow-paced, but interesting and surprisingly offers some really tense realism in certain aspects thanks to the handheld camera work from director Joe Carnahan. He really went all out to try and put the audience right in with the group, especially during the chaotic plane crash sequence.
Early in the project's development the filmmakers were quoted describing that the wolves would be like the killer in a slasher flick, and they weren't kidding. Whenever the opportunity arises, the wolves pick the men off one by one, so they're not only incredibly menacing looking, but also very crafty and meticulous, and at times even almost supernatural-like, particularly in one scene that shows nothing but their spooky yellow eyes amidst the darkness -- a very bone-chilling scene. And I really love the spontaneity of the attacks, like in one scene where you think everything's fine then out of nowhere someone gets attacked, giving the audience a nice little scare.
Although the wolves are a big aspect of what's threatening the men, the filmmakers often remind us that these guys are also fighting the elements too, with their lack of food and dealing with the extreme colds and no shelter; all of this is increased greatly when they venture away from the crash site. The movie also offers a fascinating approach to death, with each character not only dying in different ways, but also how they all have their own distinct personalities and ways of accepting defeat. It's just another example of the many layers within the film. I'll admit I was a little disappointed with how the flick ended, but after letting it sit with me for a while, I began to appreciate it more and feel it really couldn't have ended any other way.
The Grey is a multi-layered survival pic that really puts you right in with the group and offers some tense scenes and incredibly menacing foes. The slow and moody atmosphere may deter some people who went in expecting a fast-paced thriller, but if you forget the misleading trailers and accept it for what it is, you'll see that this is definitely one of the better and more memorable survival man-vs-nature films to come out in years.
|Posted on January 30, 2012 - 8:46pm | FrighT MasteR|