Movie Review: 'The Grey'

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If you’re the type of person that keeps up with reviews of current films, you’ve probably already heard that The Grey is not necessarily the movie that was advertised in the trailer. What most people will probably expect going in is that it will be an action movie like Taken, but with Liam Neeson fighting wolves, in the wilderness. Throw those expectations out the window, and get ready for something that’s much, much better than that.

The Grey stars Liam Neeson as Ottway, a man who works in middle of nowhere Alaska as a hunter that protects men that work at an oil drilling facility from wolves, and any other predators in the area. He is living in a place isolated from the rest of society, and he himself feels isolated, even from the men working there with him. When he and the other men board a plane to travel to a new place to drill, it crashes in an unknown area far away from where they were before, and the only man with any apparent survival skills is Ottway. If they are to live, they must face the elements of nature, and even packs of wolves that they inadvertently disturbed after the crash landing.

The level of suspense that the cinematography in The Grey creates is immense. The action scenes that are in the movie are shot very quickly, and with somewhat of a shaky cam style, but it actually works here. It’s effective because it puts you into their perspectives, and makes everything seem more immediate in certain scenes without turning into a gimmicky shaky cam found footage movie. The plane crash at the beginning of the film is unlike any other that I’ve seen; it’s so realistic that it’s disturbing. You’re put right in the thick of it with this group of guys, and everything along the way seems much more intense because of it. The wolves that hunt them are terrifying, and at times don’t even seem like actual wolves, so I don’t really see why PETA was getting all up in arms over the film. Some of the wolves, including the alpha, are so giant that they are about half the size of the men when standing on all fours. It may seem ridiculous, but in the film’s defense, if you do some research, there are actually some very large species of grey wolves out there.

The performance by Liam Neeson is top notch, and the other main actors in the film serve their purposes as well. In all honesty, what makes you interested in these characters and the situation they’re involved in is not only the circumstances, but how they deal with them. Although most of the characters are not completely fleshed out, there’s really no need for them to be. Instead of spending a lot of time for each individual character, they choose to show what the characters are like through their actions and few words. Each character has his own way of fighting to survive, and trying to come to terms with the fact that he may not make it out alive. This all comes across very clearly, but not during the scenes where they are fending off wolves and fighting against nature, but when they are talking about their lives and connecting, and about why life is worth living for them. It’s hard to not be moved by the experiences that these guys endure, and each perspective seems different.

I wish that there were more newer movies like this out there, and it’s great to see that it’s topping the box office right now. Man against the elements, without the Hollywood nonsense and what’s to be expected from a movie with this premise. At it’s core, this is a movie about life and death, two themes that are unmatched in importance. The Grey is no doubt the best movie of the year (so far) and I’m a bit disappointed that it wasn’t released later in the year around Oscar time. What many people are going to be split on is the ending of the film. Without giving too much away, there isn’t as much closure as the average viewer might like. There’s a scene shown in the trailer that will not pan out how you expect it to if you go in with the “Crazy Liam Neeson Action Movie with Wolves” mentality. But, make sure you stay after the credits.

Verdict: Must See!

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