Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Grey Review

Greetings and salutations, Internet!  I recently had the privilege of seeing Joe Carnahan's (The A-Team, Smokin' Aces) The Grey.  I say "privilege" because I feel like The Grey is one of those films that you may be excited for but you are truly blown away when you actually get to sit down and watch it.  This may sound like high praise but I assure you that The Grey is very good.  If it had come out at the end of last year it would've made my Top Ten list.  Maybe even top five.

The Grey's plot is quite simple.  Liam Neeson's Ottway is a contract-killer of wolves in Alaska (he protects outdoor workers from predator wolves).  He and a group of rough and tumble cold-weather laborers are on a flight to Anchorage when their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere.  Ottway and a handful of survivors band together to survive the cold...then the wolves show up.  The Grey is a mix of the concepts of man vs. nature and man vs. beast.  The fact that these men are left with little to survive on, in a frigid landscape, is enough for one film.  The Grey adds in man-hunting, predatorial, vicious, wolves.  Ottway's knowledge of the predatory animal does come in handy, but not much can protect the survivors (who have no real weapons).  I don't want to spoil anything; one of my favorite aspects of the films is that you truly do not know what will happen next.

The performances are absolutely fantastic.  Liam Neeson is one of my favorite working actors; he just seems to disappear into any role he is given.  One of Batman's most powerful villains?  No problem.  Badass government agent whose daughter is kidnapped by European sex-slavers?  Check.  Uh, Qui-Gon Jinn?  Hell to the yeah.  He's fantastic to watch in The Grey.  His character is complex and one that we can all sympathize with.  He's calm, cool, and collected for the vast majority of the film.  He appears to always be in control of their situation even when he admits to being scared out of his mind.  The rest of cast is great as well, even if you can't really tell who they are because of their facial hair/heavy winter clothing.

The Grey is just so damn good.  It really is.  There isn't much I would change - but the ending will be a dividing force amongst filmgoers.  I personally thought the ending fit perfectly within the context of the film.  Just make sure to stay after the credits for one last haunting image that spells out everything quite well.

I feel that I would be remiss to not mention the fact that this film is very rated R.  I don't pay much attention to MPAA ratings these days, but the gore and violence in this film surprised me quite a bit.  I was not prepared for full-on human mutilation.  I'm not offended by it at all; I just wasn't anticipating it.  At times I felt like I was watching a horror film set in the Alaskan wilderness.  Think The Thing, but with wolves instead of aliens.  There were more than a few times that I jumped in my seat because of an attacking wolf.

I cannot recommend The Grey highly enough.  Its a fantastic, excellently-crafted, well-shot, gripping, enthralling action-survival film.  Because of the tense nature of their situation and the gore it definitely isn't for everyone.  But if you're a fan of Liam Neeson, so see it.  If you're a fan of survialist films, go see it.  If you like excellent films, go see it.  Just go see this film.

The Grey is an excellent, thrilling, survival film.  And a great start to 2012.

Bullet is out.

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