Cert: 15 Runtime: 117 mins Director: Joe Carnahan Cast: Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney and Joe Anderson
Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know.
Live or die on this day.
Live or die on this day.
Liam Neeson is a tough guy, one of the many lessons in life that I have learnt is don’t mess with Liam Neeson. He has been slightly type cast recently with film such as Taken, Unknown, The A Team and soon to be Taken 2. After seeing the trailer for The Grey it seemed to me that it was going to be another epic action film.How unbelievable that at nearly 60 years old, an actor can redefine his career and become more bankable. Neeson has somehow re-channeled the seriousness he brought to dramatic roles into creating utterly convincing heroes in decent (at best) thrillers. So what is The Grey about? Ottaway (Liam Neeson) appears to be a man that has no dreams of life left,no lies,no illusions.The reasons are not apparent. He is a sniper contracted to protect oil rig workers from infrequent wolf attacks,and shoots only when completely necessary.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.They are the refuse of the real world,who deserve to be in the harsh conditions that he has chosen to be in.On a routine flight to return to civilization the plane crashes literally in the middle of nowhere.Then you are hit with the real fear.The primal one most of us have forgotten on our long ride at the top of the food chain. The line between our world of safety and 911 and sanity, and complete all bets are off,nothing will save you but yourself world, is very thin.He finds out in the worst way possible that the plane has crashed in the world of the wolf and they do not belong there.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 movie gives new meaning to some of the simplest things. Seeing your breath in cold weather takes on an entirely new definition and the way The Grey deals with death just feels incredibly powerful. Ottway questions faith right from the start and takes matters into his own hands throughout the movie. The events that transpire take a toll on even the most religious plane crash survivors. Death is more of a relief than something worth distancing yourself from. Ottway describes it as being a warm sensation and thinking about the thing you love most in life before completely giving yourself into it. Many of the campfire conversations are entirely more impactful than they have any right to be. The conversation about faith in general hits you like a potato sack full of cinder blocks.The Grey manages to shout its message even when there’s nothing being said on-screen. One of the images that stuck with me long after the movie ended was the shot of blood flowing into the paw print of a wolf in the snow. There’s a scene by the river that strictly relies on sound and the way you succumb to it is nothing more than brilliant. There’s another shot at the end of the film where (and I’m trying to avoid spoilers the best I can) Ottway is arranging some objects in the snow. The way Liam Neeson’s fat, sausage-like fingers delicately wrap themselves around these objects and the way his hands tremble as he does this illustrates not only what this man has been through, but also that he’s at the end of his rope. Plus the movie will make you want to look over your shoulder the next time you consider relieving yourself out in nature somewhere.
That level of greatness The Grey eventually achieves isn’t around at all times. Some lame dialogue does squeak through and characters manage to do really stupid things at times (John Diaz, played by Frank Grillo, especially), but that seems to help the movie more than anything. People, real people, occasionally do stupid things especially when they’re scared. So this kind of made the characters feel more genuine and made it very clear that certain characters were caving under pressure.There was a movie that came out back in 2000 that was called Vertical Limit. It was one of my most trying times at the cinema. I fought vehemently to leave about halfway through because I hated it so much, but I was with people at the time who wanted to stay until the end. It was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had to pay for. The Grey is basically everything I wanted that movie to be. The cast is fantastic, their actions are mostly believable, and there’s this meaning to everything that really speaks to you.The Grey is a grainy thriller that knocks the wind out of you on more than one occasion. In fact, it’s rare that the movie actually allows you to catch your breath. Everything is such a raw, vicious, and brutal test of faith. It’s fantastically violent and Liam Neeson is superb. If The Grey is anything to fall back on, then 2012 is going to be one hell of a year for movies.8.0/10