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Review: The Grey
Liam Neeson stars in this action thriller that plunges a group of misfit men into the not so winter wonderland after a devastating plane crash.The film has a beautiful opening sequence as Neeson's character Ottway delivers a voice over speech as we see him keeping his co-workers safe in Alaska from predatory wolves. Ottway has flashes of his wife, and looks at a letter that was written to him from his wife. All of these things make us think several things about the character, but all the preconceived notions we have alleviate throughout the course of the film. He and his co-workers upon completion of their job are sent home in the midst of a blizzard on a plane. Great thinking there by their bosses. The plane goes through quite a bit of turbulence and inevitable falls from the sky. The way that the crash was handled was amazing, and I already have a fear of flying and this film has not helped ease that fear. After surviving the brutality of the crash, they quickly search for fellow survivors and tend to wounded. Shortly after, Ottway finds a dead body being munched on by a wolf. Instinctively, he tries to scare off the wolf but is attacked by another one. The group scare the wolves off but Ottway tells them that they are possibly in their tracking range, and even less likely in their killing range. Well the movie hinges on the latter of the two, so I'd say it's safe to say that they are in the killing range.
Seeing how Ottway initiated contact with the wolves, he tells the group that they are not within their range. To be safe he says everyone should sleep while one man stands on guard. Over the night they are visited by an entire pack of wolves which leads to one of the more intense scenes of the film. Shortly after they decide to walk past a tree line off in the distance, despite the fact that it is a long walk. The group of seven survivors slowly dwindles down as the wolves begin to attack taking them out one by one increasing the fear within the characters. The fear within the characters also briefly makes one of the character's question Ottway's leadership ability. As they make it further and further through the cold and the forests the group have frequent conversations of a variety of topics. Some on their personal lives, their sexual conquests and even their own faith. Faith, to know surprise in a survival thriller, becomes a key part to the story in the latter half of the film as all characters question as to why God would let them go through such an ordeal. At a certain point, the group realizes that they will likely have to fight the wolves as they are visited by the alpha male wolf. Which leads to another powerful scene filled with plenty of tension.
The most impressive thing I can say about the film is the fact that in most of these films the characters are under developed, which happily is not the case here. Dermot Mulroney stars as Talget who out of the crazy bunch is more of your everyday kind of man that just wants to get back to his daughter and is one of the lone men with faith. Dallas Roberts stars as Hendrick, who again like Talget is another everyday kind of man who just wants to get home. Frank Grillo stars as John Diaz the macho "alpha male" if you will. Diaz, in his selfish and arrogant need to be the leader to feel tough frequently challenges Ottway. Some of the more memorable scenes comes from the interactions between these characters as they reflect on their lives and tell stories of their past, which is a big credit to the actors and writers as the film could teeter on the side of being corny if in less-talented hands.
Liam Neeson's performance in this film is one of his best of recent memory as Ottway and Joe Carnahan does a terrific job in the directing chair. The film had many heart-wrenching scenes involving the survivors and philosophical scenes while also having some amazing action sequences. The most memorable scene would have to be one that involves crossing a chasm, undoubtedly it struck a chord within me as I have a terrible fear of heights. It is rare however to find a survival thriller that hits on so many notes like this one did. Neeson's performance is undoubtedly as powerful as it is due to the loss of his own wife in real life, which surely cuts on a few emotional chords that is needed to pull off the Ottway character in order to make him more believable and likable.