The Grey Movie Review
The Grey Movie Overview
The movie starts with the slow walk of a hunter at "the end of the world", which refers to Alaska. As Ottway walks to the oil facility which employs him, a narration begins. The narration is a mental dictation to himself as he writes a letter to his wife, who has left him.
Ottway boards a flight to Juneau. He sleeps through some heavy turbulence, but awakens when the starboard engine catches fire. Ottway fastens his belt. The door to the cockpit is open, and Ottway can see sparks flying and hears the loud cracking of short circuits. Though no one is giving instructions, he fasten his seat belt. As the plan begins to shake and bounce, he lays flat and straps the adjacent seat's belt across his chest. The plastic yellow oxygen cups pop out from overhead, and Ottway presses one firmly to his face and begins breathing excitedly as the plane angles downward and lighting fails.
Everything happens fast as the plane tears apart and Ottway is seen, inverted, flying through open air, but with the yellow mask yet pressed to his mouth.
In the next scene, Ottway suddenly wakes out of a dream featuring his wife. Sitting up, he find himself alone in a tundra of snow. Disoriented, he stands and looks around. He jogs to a ridge in the snow and looks over to see the burning wreckage of the plane.
Running to the site, he finds six other survivors, all in perfect walking health. One other man dies from wounds he received in the crash landing. Ottway talks him down, telling him to think of someone he loves, and tells the dying man, "She will take you."
Too Many Wrong Details
Before progressing with the movie, I need to list the things that just don't make sense so far, about 10 minutes into the movie:
1. Open cockpit door? That never happens, rarely happened before 9/11, and would certainly not be going on while sparks were jumping. They would want to "keep the passengers calm."
2. Objects fall heavy side down. If Ottway fell inverted, he would need to be still strapped to the chair, at least. Since he still used the yellow oxygen mask, it is reasonable to think he is still attached to the lower fuselage. If on the fuselage, why is he upside down? If on the seats only, why is he still breathing the oxygen, then attached to nothing?
3. After he wakes up, how did he separate from the aircraft and from the chairs? He is completely fine, yet there is no plausible explanation for how he was thrown from the crash, and survived.
4. The probability of a plane crashing, with everyone but one either completely dead or completely healthy must be very, very low.
5. How did Ottway learn to talk someone into peace as they lay dying? That is never explained.
Standard Obligatory Attack on Christianity
As the men flee from a pack of wolves, one of the men expresses his faith. Immediately, I thought, "This man will die. He will not survive until the end." In the next trial, he dies. And, in the same sharing moment around a fire built to keep the wolves at bay, he shares that he is divorced, and that a daughter he loved very much is already dead. So, the Christian portrait painted is one of being very much not blessed.
As the second to the last man is drowning in water, and Ottway struggles to pull him up out of the water, Ottway, leans his head back, and cries out, "Please, Jesus, help me!" The effort fails, and the man trapped just beneath the surface of the water drowns.
Clambering out of the frozen lake, Ottway props himself (soaking wet) against a frozen embankment. He begins to cuss and use vulgar language as he appeals for God to give him a sign or send some help or just anything. "I'll believe in you for the rest of my life if you'll just show yourself to me!" he yells.
And... nothing. The camera pans up as wind whistles through the trees and the constant downfall of snow tumbles down, borne at an angle by the wind.
One of the ironies is that a reference is made to Timothy Treadwell, the man whose life is documented in Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog. In that documentary film, Herzog splices in actual, live footage from Treadwell's journeys to Alaska. One of these shows Treadwell's anger over a drought. The drought was creating a problem for the bears. No rain became empty rivers. Empty rivers evolved into no fish and starving bears. One of the large male bears killed and ate a cub. After the cub's death, in a scene from actual footage, Treadwell screams to God, "If you are real, send rain." Treadwell is angry at God, and challenging, just as Ottway yelled in The Grey.
Reality vs Hollywood Fiction
However, in the real life events of Timothy Treadwell, but not in Hollywood, a wind picks up, clouds roll in, and a major rainstorm sends down a massive deluge of rain, fixed the problems created by the drought and saved the bears.
Why would my "Father in Heaven" not answer Ottway's prayer? There are really two reasons. First, consider how Jesus prayed. Jesus opened prayer with "Dear Heavenly Father" or "My Heavenly Father" or something very similar. Ottway opens with "You prick" as the least of a long string of very savage, vulgar names. None of the titles used addresses the God of Abraham. So, why would He respond when He has not been called? Second, though many may assume Ottway was asking for a helicopter, or the National Guard, or even a mailman or a lost backpack filled with provisions to float down the river... Ottway was very likely praying for death.
There is a phrase, "Curse God and die." It is from Job 2:9. Job's wife advises him to "curse God and die." Nowhere in scripture does it say this is good advice, or even that anyone who curses God will die. Ottway curses God... Is it because he wanted to die?
Finally, Ottway said, "I'll do it myself." Since Ottway eventually found himself in the very core of the wolves' den, it seems likely Ottway meant, "I will arrange my death if You will not." Think back to the letter Ottway wrote before he departed the camp. He wrote to his dead wife that he was coming to see her. He planned his death, somehow, before he even departed.
Into the Fray Poem from 'The Grey' movie
Once more into the fray
to the last good fight I'll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live... and die... on this day.
Into the Fray Poem - Scene from 'The Grey'
I do want to give two mentions for great acting.
Best actor in this movie goes to Durmot Mulroney, who played the Christian. The character was very believable as a caring, intelligent, somewhat reserved divorcee.
Liam Neeson, the real draw for this movie (not the directing and not the writing, and not the attention to detail, certainly), also did a great job playing Ottway. His best scene is actually a conversation with Diaz, (played by Frank Grillo) about fear.
There were no bad actors.
Overall Rating of the Movie, "The Grey" with Liam Neeson
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a flat 1. I refuse to give a higher score to a movie that insults my Father in Heaven.
Overall, the movie moved slowly and felt loooong. Many scenes drawled out so that my mind left the flow of the film and returned to the fact of sitting in a theater. The long list of inconsistencies produced the same effect. Often, I found myself looking at the film itself instead of experiencing the story. Just based on the merits of the basic aspects of a movie, I would give it a 4.5 out of 10. This includes the premium for star power and their performances. This is one to miss in theaters, and to then miss when it comes out on DVD as well.
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The Grey Official Trailer
Other Things Made No Sense
The tree line in any given region stops at a certain altitude. The colder it is, the lower the altitude at which trees stop growing. In this movie, they were in a cold region, with a large river (another sign of a lower altitude), and yet one of the men suffered from hypoxia, a problem at high altitudes.
Evidence of logging: After a blizzard clears, Ottway rushes to a stump, brushes away snow, and finds a snow line tag, a ribbon of orange surveyor's tape. So, I began to expect they would look for a logging road. No one cuts timber without hauling it off. That is done via river or truck. However, no search for a logging road (which leads to civilization) ensues.
A man clears about 25 or 30 feet in a jump. He falls only about 3 feet vertically in the jump. That doesn't make sense when one considers physics.Plus, the world record long jump is held by Mike Powell, set in 1991 at the Tokyo World Championships. Powell jumped 29 feet 4-1/2 inches.
The wolf that attacks Diaz in an early scene is killed. While atop him, the wolf is very large. Later, they make a spit and roast the wolf and eat it. The wolf on the spit is the size of a medium-small dog. Wolves are typically over a hundred pounds. This also was enough of a blunder to bring me out of the movie commenting to myself, "That's not right."
In the same fight with the wolf, Diaz is knocked into the fire. However, he does not catch fire, nor is he burned.
The first man to die is attacked by a wolf that leaps at him, hitting him in the chest and knocking him flat. Wolves attack the throat or the perineum (the tender area between testicles and sphincter) so that victims bleed to death while wolves stand at a safe distance and wait. Contrary to nature, wolves attack arms and legs in this film.
In "The Grey", What Happened to Ottway's Wife:
As the movie progresses, we find tacit references to Ottway's wife. In an early scene, he is writing a letter to her. In the letter, he says, "you left me." This implies Ottway is divorced. In the letter, Ottway explains to his wife why he chose the work he chose. He says he cannot wait to see her again. In the following scene, he boards a plane for Juneau. There is an assumption (at least on my part) that he is returning to civilization, and that he has a desire to see her.
Before Ottway has any opportunity to see Juneau, the plane crashes in wolf territory. As the trek to find safety continues, periodic flashbacks to Ottway lying on a bed of clean white sheets with his wife show her saying, "Don't be afraid." Again, the viewer's most obvious understanding is that Ottway is receiving instruction from his subconscious in the image of his wife (or in some supernatural way.)
However, in one of the very last scenes, we see that Ottway is actually on a hospital bed with his wife. As the camera pans back, a slow drip intravenous tube comes into view in the foreground. So, it seems, Mrs. Ottway was telling him the entire time, "Don't be afraid - that I am dying." However, there is a double meaning to her words.
Throughout the movie, Ottway tells others that a loved one, already departed from the world, will come to guide a dying person. (That's it, no destination implied... just out of the body to accept death.) So, in the end, we see several story elements merge into a new understanding:
Ottway is suicidal and wants to die - to return and see his wife again.
The flashbacks to his father's poem, "Once more into the fray, to live and day on this day." Ottway was planning to kill himself before boarding the flight. However, as he inserted the gun barrel into his mouth, he heard the wolves calling from off in the distance. At that point, Ottway must have decided that he would not kill himself, but would enter the contest of life and death with the wolves one more time. After the plane crashed, he got his chance.
One has to wander: Did Ottway, an expert in the sociopsychology and patterns of wolf packs understand the entire time that he was leading himself (and the others) straight into the wolves' den as part of his desire to die... but to first go "once more into the fray" and there to "live and die on this day"?
The only thing missing from this interpretation is that Ottway could not have known that the plane would crash.
One other thing that unsettles the mind is the only scene that shows the drip line. The room is not exactly a hospital room. It just looks white and peaceful. The drip line is not exactly one a hospital uses to transmit fluids to bedridden patients. Could they have been at home? Could the small glass vial contain euthanasia?