The Grey: "Don't Move. Stare Right Back At Them"

Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer:    Joe Carnahan
               Ian MacKenzie Jeffers
Starring: Liam Neeson
               Frank Grillo
               Dermot Mulroney
               Dallas Roberts
               Joe Anderson
               Nonso Anozie
               James Badge Dale
Rating: ****  

Release Date:
Out Now

Our protagonist is John Ottway (Neeson), a man suffering from depression who work as security for oil-digging teams in Alaska. He keeps an eye out for wolves who casually stroll onto the drilling premises and is mainly responsible for taking them down before they cause any damage or harm to the people at work. During a flight, the plane carrying Ottway and some of the drillers crash lands in the remote Alaskan wilderness, leaving the survivors, a small group of seven including Ottway, stranded without any means of escape, survival or rescue. It soon becomes clear that Ottway is the natural leader and puts his tortured conscience on hold, deciding that the best course of action is to keep moving  and head south. However , the group soon begins to realise that surviving the plane crash may have been more of a curse than a blessing as their numbers begin to drop. You see, they have just fallen victim to the natural dangers (freezing temperatures) as well as the living ones (violent, man-eating wolves), one by one.

I'll admit that the plot isn't exactly fresh and original, but this film isn't about the storyline. It is, rather bizarrely, an in depth look at what people will do and go through in order to survive. Carnahan’s script, adapted from co-writer Ian Mackenzie Jeffers’ short story, "Ghost Walker", is not without a few cliches and a handful of cheesy lines, but actually it contains a surprising ability to balance adrenaline-fuelled action and perfect character development. Carnahan decides to direct the film very bleakly, making it dull in the way it feels, but it is just so you can feel the severity of their situation. He plays out the action sequences much like those of a slasher film, the wolves appear suddenly and unexpectedly with a terrifying rage visible in their eyes, nothing but carnage on their minds. But what makes The Grey a truly excellent picture is the emotional undercurrent Carnahan weaves into the film through both its script and direction.

What matters most, for me, in a survival film is the ability to make the loss of a particular character shocking and emotional. In The Grey, Carnahan is able to make every single character matter and breaks rules almost immediately by assuring that any character, no matter how famous the actor is that's playing them, can be long gone at any moment thanks to the natural terrors of Alaska. With the character of Ottway, Carnahan has made the brilliant decision of casting Liam Neeson. Neeson is rugged, and has this broody, handsome appearance, charismatic presence, and natural middle-aged looks which are perfect for Ottway, and make him a realistic protagonist. There is one particular scene, where a tearful and emotional Ottway yells to the lord above demanding that there be a reason for why he has been forced to endure such torture when he survived the terrible plane crash, but the only response he receives is silence. It's this kind of tear-inducing, heart-wrenching performance where Neeson really excels, and it just shows what a brilliant an raw actor he can be, I mean have you seen Taken?!?!
When you look at the trailer it does look like it is gonna be just another Liam-Neeson-being-awesome film, but it is more than that. It is full of heart, it's very humanistic and it is truly emotionally captivating. It’s a really powerful film that doesn’t waste a single moment of its 117 minute runtime. It’s an action thriller one minute, then a gritty and raw drama driven purely by characters and performance. It is about survival, and the whole film is just building up to an inventive climax and resolution that makes your heart stop. Overall, it’s a beautiful, exciting and stirring movie experience that I highly recommend.

The Grey - Trailer