SYNOPSIS: In The Grey, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements – and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt – before their time runs out.
Imagine you survived a plane crash and you are now stranded in the icy cold and being surrounded by a pack of wolves. Who are you gonna rely on? Liam Neeson of course.
The lanky Irish actor once again collaborates with his “A-Team” director, Joe Carnahan in “The Grey”, a philosophical tale of survival, faith and humanity. The trailer and TV spots try to sell it as a Neeson-punching-wolves action movie though I can tell you honestly it’s not. Just because he convinced the world he can kick some serious asses in “Taken”, “The A-Team” and “Unknown” doesn’t mean he can’t take on some dramatic role for a change. Sure, his character is tough as nails but this movie is not what you expect.
Neeson plays Ottway, a hunter hired to protect a group of rugged oil-rig workers in Alaska. On the journey home, the plane crashed in a blizzard with only Ottway and a handful of workers surviving the accident. With a pack of wolves closing in, the survivors must leave the crash site and find a way to civilization provided they can survive the ordeal.
To begin with, “The Grey” succeeds mainly because of Neeson’s flawless performance. Ottway is a tortured soul who contemplates suicide shortly before the crash. We don’t really know about the real reason behind his estrangement from his wife, just bits and pieces from his dreams and nightmares and it’s enough to feel the sorrow, suffering of the man perhaps mirroring Neeson’s tragic loss of his wife a few years back. His co-stars, Frank Grillo (Prison Break), an almost unrecognizable Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding), Dallas Roberts (Law & Order), Joe Anderson (Across the Universe) and Nonso Anozie (Conan the Barbarian) chips in serious, dark performances as men from different backgrounds who bond in order to survive the harshness.
“The Grey” marks Joe Carnahan’s most matured production to date. Carnahan who is known for his ultra-fast cuts and co-wrote the script with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers opt for a subdued, subtle approach to the material. Questions such as the existence of God and man-against-nature arise in the forsaken wilderness and “The Grey” offers plenty of these in addition to the animal mauling. Sure, the wolves attack sequences can be handled with more flair instead of on-your-face, shaky handheld shots and the sudden cheap scares do no credit to the otherwise compelling storytelling. The incredible lensing by Masanobu Takayanagi (Babel) and together with British Columbia’s (substituting for Alaska) harsh landscape is chilling even if you are in the comfort of your living room.
In my own opinion, “The Grey” is letdown by the abrupt ending and a post-credits scene that is too ambiguous to be of any help. Despite that, it’s still a thought-provoking title with lush sound effects and visual to kill for and no for the last time, Neeson is not going to punch the living daylights out of every wolf he encounter on the way.
Six Deleted Scenes (with no commentary), Trailers and a Photo Gallery round up the extra features.
The surround sound involving nature elements and howling wolves are unfortunately constrained by the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack if not it will be a much impactful experience. The visual presented here is excellent and free of noticeable artifacts.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee