Adam Elliott blogs about movies, cinema life and other goofy things.
Movie Review: The Grey
by Adam Elliott,posted Jan 27 2012 2:31PM
Call me paranoid, but I love a good survival story. What would I do in the situation? How would I handle it differently? Exactly how long could I survive after my iPhone battery drains?
Liam Neeson’s new film The Grey is a chilled action story, filled with pending doom, survival of the fittest and wild wolves that carry a grudge. Ottaway (Neeson) and a crew of grungy oil workers are aboard a plane that goes down in the frozen middle of nowhere, Alaska. The survivors even reference the 1993 movie Alive and fend for their survival. A pack of hungry wolves, upset that a plane lands in their turf, make for a particularly bad three days.
The Grey has a plot very similar to a number of other movies (Predator, Anaconda, even Jaws) where a creature starts picking off members of a group, one by one. The thing that makes this stand out is Neeson’s believability in a survival situation. In one dramatic and heavy scene, Neeson shouts to the heavens for help. Not like Captain Kirk shouting at Kahn. More like a man’s final desperate attempt to spare his life. It’s still weighing on me as I write this. I still don’t know how Neeson turned from an eloquent actor to an action hero, but it works.
Still, Ottway is kind of a lousy guy. He’s hired as a sharpshooter to kill wolves at an oil refinery. In Alaska, we can assume that most people are there to get away from everyone else. Ottway has a interesting backstory, but come on. Your job is to shoot wolves who are just looking for food? Can’t you just put up a fence?
At first, you feel sympathy for the wolves. They are just animals surviving. Then you start to wonder how you might defend yourself from a pack of wolves. Then you fear them, basically because you want to keep on living.
Interestingly enough, the well-placed dark turn towards the end of the film helps out a theory of mine on this movie. With just a little bit of editing, the creatures stalking this group could have just as well been supernatural. You really only see small moments of wolves and when they do attack, the camera work is so blurry that you can’t really tell what is going on.
Why not just make the attacking creatures teenage vampires? They would have cleaned up at the box office.