I am going to be honest, I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson. If I know he is in a movie, I’ll want to see it. It may sound a bit exaggerated, but he has such a commanding presence that it is a pleasure watching him on the big screen. While he has had a long and prosperous career (i.e. playing Oscar Schindler in Schindler’s List), it wasn’t until recent hits like Taken, Unknown, The A-Team, and Batman Begins that Neeson became a major Hollywood player. With all that said, I was really looking forward to his new film, The Grey.
If you’ve seen the previews for The Grey, you can see that it is reminiscent of the Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin survival flick, The Edge, where a bear mercilessly stalks the survivors of a single-engine plane wreck. I say it is reminiscent, but The Grey is really more of a cookie-cutter copy as it features the survivors of a plane crash being hunted by a pack of wolves in a barren wasteland. The Grey may lack originality, but it more than makes up for it in execution.
As always, Neeson puts in a tremendous performance as Ottway, a sniper who protects workers at an outlier oil rig in the Arctic. Ottway is haunted by the memory of his wife, who had left him, and it seems only appropriate that he is alone and about as far away from civilization as humanly possible. Actors Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, and Nonso Anozie, all of who do an excellent job, round out the rest of the cast as the other survivors.
One of the things I liked best about The Grey was there was no unnecessary romance to convolute the story. Sure, there was Ottway’s wife, played by Anne Openshaw, but she was only shown in brief flashbacks that contributed to the story. Love is a luxury, and as this film makes abundantly clear, there is no room for luxury while trying to survive . . . unless love is the only reason you want to survive (which is the case with some of the characters).
The Grey is not only a man-versus-nature film, but highlights the conflict between man-versus-man and man-versus-himself. It fires on all cylinders and delivers hard-hitting questions, truths, and gut checks throughout. What would you do if you were thrown into an extreme survival situation? The Grey explores some of the answers, and believe me when I say it packs an emotional punch.
For example, right after a plane crash scene, the survivors find one of their colleagues gravely injured. As the man clings to life, Ottway bluntly informs him that he is going to die. I found the ensuing reactions, both by the survivors and the fading man, to be powerful. It was a terrible situation, and I wanted badly to turn away; however, I was caught up in the reality of situation and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It’s rare for a scene in a film to have such emotional influence, but this one did. I’ll never forget it.
The end of the film will have people taking, and while I don't want to give any spoilers, I will say that I liked it; however, I can see a lot of patrons leaving unfulfilled, especially if they’re the type who needs closure. I felt the ending was true to the theme and messages preached throughout the film, which revolved around the ideas of existentialism, religion, and faith.
The Grey was well worth the price of admission and I recommend you check it out.
Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 81%