DVD Review: The Grey
I should know better by now. When I first saw the teaser trailer for The Grey, which implied little more than Liam Neeson battling vicious wolves with nothing other than broken off shooters and a knife taped to his hands, I had to laugh out loud. However, though Neeson doesn't always make the best films, he's more than proven himself the thinking man's ultimate badass, and The Grey is no laughing matter.
Neeson plays Ottway, a man hired to keep an Alaskan oil drilling team safe from wolves. On the flight home, the plane goes down in a blizzard, and Ottway is one of seven survivors who fear not only starving and freezing to death, but also the wolves whose territory the men have unintentionally invaded.
The film uses pretty standard elements for backstory and character filler. Ottway had a woman whom he thinks and dreams of often for comfort, but he'll never get her back. He's also suicidal in the beginning, but when he becomes the leader of the survivors, he must fight for his life. There is, of course, the one jackass survivor who must go against everyone and constantly run his mouth. The remaining seven literally get picked off one by one, the first ones having forgettable names and zero development.
However, it's when the group is put in danger that the film really comes alive. The plane crash, the wolves, the snow, and a handful of other dangers the group encounters are all so masterfully executed that it's hard not to be effected by the sights and sounds on screen. Between the never ending snowy wasteland in the sunlight and the glowing eyes of the predators coming out of the pitch black at night, the sick feeling of isolation creeps up your back and is made far worse by the intensity of the film's sound effects. And as the film draws you in with the sound of death all around, the urgency and fear of the survivors radiates from the screen. I can't remember the last time a film's soundtrack, outside of the score, affected me this deeply, making The Grey a technical gem.
So after being visually and audibly tortured (in a good way) for nearly two hours, Neeson's final stance, with broken shooters and knife, against the alpha wolf is a fitting end to a film that rose above its generic story and stock characters to be better than it had any right to be.