‘The Grey’ Movie Review
The first thing I can say about The Grey is that it isn’t a light viewing. It requires you to buckle down and prepare for some gut wrenching scenes that are hard to watch, though it does offer plenty of excellent action sequences. I’m speaking merely about the tone of the movie when I say that, and it’s one which is very grim and very empty. It captures the mindset and outlook of Ottway (played by Liam Neeson) as well as mirror the desperate situation these plane crash survivors are actually in.
The Grey follows a group of oil-rig workers through a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, leaving them with very little supplies and almost no food or water to last more than a night or two. As if that wasn’t bad enough they landed in the hunting ground radius of a pack of wolves, hellbent on defending their territory at whatever means necessary. This is man vs nature at it’s finest, leaving behind the Hollywood fluff and fairytale scenarios and replacing them with a frighteningly realistic portrayal.
This movie follows the will of the human species, and asks us how far we’ll go to survive. How far will we go before we give up and accept death? The beauty of the film is that Liam Neeson’s character is sleepwalking through life and waiting for death at every corner. He lost his wife to an early death and lost his faith along the way, becoming suicidal and blunt in his descriptive nature. He’s seen how dark and unforgiving this world can be in it’s daily practices. There wasn’t any miracle cure that swooped in and saved his wife so why should we go through life with faith and hope in our hearts? These are the internal questions he asks himself that are imprinted onto the audience of the film. It’s the irony of the movie that he constantly thinks about death and ending his life, only he becomes the leader of a group of passengers clinging to survival. He makes the decision to lead these men and become a beacon of hope to them, their lifeline to the world that they’re desperately trying to get back to, all the while breaking every stereotype we saw during the introduction of his character.
This movie is brutal in it’s delivery and unforgiving in how it portrays death. This isn’t sugar-coated or “Hollywoodized” in the slightest. There are no over the top moments of heroism, there are no fight scenes where one man is taking on 3 wolves at once.. no.. this is as realistic a representation that you’ll find in a film like this. The death scenes are raw, depressing, and suck the spirit right out of you. It’s rare to see a movie show death for what it truly is, and the themes that apply to how it deals with “our end” are very organic and grounded. You’re not going to find much faith in these men, its a movie about survival and about how fragile life and death truly is. In an instant we can be removed from this planet as the cycle continues as if we were never there. They bicker back and forth while questioning the existence of God, and if he does exist, why he would allow them to go through this situation.
One of the biggest positives this movie has going for it is it’s colorful cast of characters that are stranded alongside Neeson. Countless movies like this treat their side characters as little more than “wolf bait”, so it was refreshing to see human-beings we could relate to and care about. These guys had stories, lives, kids, families and most important of all, some goddamn character growth. Many of them change their outlook and grow as the movie progresses, which I imagine would happen to anyone thrown into a life-changing survival situation such as this.
The Grey was a solid film from beginning to end with great pacing, little to no downtime and some brutal violence. Mix in some adrenaline-pumping action scenes and one of the best plane-crash sequences I can remember seeing and you have one kick ass movie that delivers in the drama, action, and even suspenseful horror moments… Highly Recommended.