Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Grey

Look, man, it's got Liam Neeson vs. wolves. I don't even know why you need to read a review.

Actually, The Grey is a little bit more than that. Liam Neeson stars as John something-or-another (I have to go all the way to Wikipedia? Forget that!), a guy way deep in Alaska hired by a company to keep wolves away from the workers. He is deep in despair, on the brink of suicide, when the transport plane he's riding crashes in the middle of nowhere, in a blizzard. They soon discover they are smack in the middle of a pack of wolves' hunting territory. Being the only guy there with any real survival skills, he takes it upon himself to help the few survivors of the crash find their way to safety, and, along the way, learns a little something about having the will to live himself.

The movie is extremely bleak and harrowing. I won't tell you who all lives and who dies, but I'll say that not very many make it. These guys are intruding on the wolves' territory, and they are injured and tired and hungry and easy to hunt. All it takes is for a guy to fall back from the group for the wolves to bear in and rip him to shreds. The message in the end is kind of positive, if you consider the message of the world is hard and cruel but you have to keep on fighting anyway a positive message. And I kind of do.

The Grey is the first movie I've seen by director Joe Carnahan, and I have to say I am impressed. The script and acting were solid, and I don't just mean Neeson, who is reliable, I also mean the rest of the guys. They could have just been stock characters or wolf bait, but instead, they were treated as real people with real reasons to live back home.

The cinematography is top notch, too. It brings a very immediate feel to the movie, like you're there with these guys and experiencing it first hand. There are some genuinely scary shots of the wolves, especially at night, when you can see their glowing eyes watching you as your bonfire is all that keeps them from pouncing.

Speaking of the wolves, I'm not sure how much of them were real, or when they were stuffed, or animatronic or CGI. I don't believe there was very much CGI, but Carnahan does a stellar job of integrating various methods to make you believe these man-eating wolves are really sharing the screen with these wolf-feeding men.

As I said before, I don't even know why you need to read a review, you should go watch Liam Neeson be awesome. The movie isn't just some dumb action movie about a superhuman Neeson wrestling wolves, as the trailers kind of sold it. It's an intense, well made survival movie with a bit of substance that also features an all-too-human Neeson wrestling wolves.

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