I Saw A Film Today… The Grey

Does a films ending need to be definite for it to pass as satisfactory in the perlustrartious eyes of the American movie goer? It has surprised me (an action that is becoming more foreign to me) how many people have complained about the ending to The Grey. They were annoyed that all the loose ends weren’t tied up. Why does everything have to wrap up so neatly? Some of the best conversations I’ve had regarding films have been debates about what each individual thought happened at the end of an ambiguous ending. The director has given the gift of allowing the audience the opportunity to use their imagination and come up with their own ending yet we complain about it? Seriously?

******

Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a heartbroken man working in Alaska killing wolves that try to attack men working on an oil pipeline. But with this job finished, it’s time to head home via a small plane. But somewhere during their trip the weather triumphs technology and the plane goes down in the great vastness of the arctic circle. The crash itself is one of the most convincing I’ve seen on film.

The seven members who survived the disaster huddle together and build a fire in the remains of the plane. But it soon becomes clear that the men are in more danger than they realized when the man who was on watch is mutilated by a pack of grey wolves.

Now the men travel south in hopes of finding some form of civilization or safety, all while trying to fight off the wolves with minimal provisions. What will happen first, safety or a face-off?

The Grey is a film with action in it, but it’s not really an action film. It’s a story about men, many the common man would consider scum, facing extraordinary circumstances.  Director Joe Carnahan has made a film that is more philosophical and about life than about a group of men surviving the extremes that only a few have experienced. Not to say The Grey doesn’t have plenty of, excuse the pun, chilling action. The film is indeed beautiful in its own unique way, even in the moments of gore.

There are a few weak spots. The story is not very strong. No doubting that Carnahan and writer Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who wrote the short story that inspired this film, have created a dialogue driven film but unfortunately the story veers into the well-known at times. And I found it rather disappointing that the wolves were mediocre CGI. Are there not show business wolves that could have been used named Snuggles and Blinky? Or were those the two wolves the crew supposedly ate on set?

The cast is great but you probably wont recognize any of the names outside of Liam Neeson, A men who has become something of a modern legend for young men ever since his role in Taken. This role only adds to that persona. But what I hope is that this persona doesn’t outshine the work of the other actors here, especially two of them. Dermot Mulroney and Dallas Roberts, both actors I recognize from many other films with minimal roles, are fantastic in the The Grey. I would find in rather interesting to see both men given stronger roles in the future.

The Grey is not for those seeing cheap action thrills. You wont find them here. You’ll find a harrowing tale about what happens when man is pitted against nature, and how far both will go to survive.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated R for violent/disturbing content, including bloody images, and pervasive language.

** Poster by Brandon Elrod.

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