Liam Neeson teaches an interesting lesson on winter survival, life, death and wolves in “The Grey,” a psychological action thriller that is sure to have you paying attention.
The film follows John Ottway (Liam Neeson), an all around bad a** sharpshooter working in Alaska for an oil refinery and hunting the wolves that threaten its workers. After the work is completed, Ottway and the other workers depart for home in Anchorage but end up crashing while flying through a storm. Left with little supplies, dwindling man power, and no hope of rescue, the survivors are left to conquer their fears and leave the crash in search of safety.
No action movie has ever made me tear up or given me the shivers like this before. Safe to say, I wasn’t prepared to feel just as hopeless as one of the plane crash survivors but I did, and that’s exactly what director Joe Carnahan wants.
Carnahan’s (“A-Team,” “Smoking Aces”) take on fear and survival is top notch. The emotions and pain that the characters of “The Grey” experience feels authentic, thanks to a large attention to detail. Being a somewhat outdoorsman myself, I felt that everything was thought of, given the circumstances of the film. The survivors are all wearing the correct clothing and using the right gear, and Neeson’s outdoor leadership and survival skills are textbook.
This is perfectly exemplified when Ottway searches a suitcase for gear and pulls out a beanie for his head, one of the most vital articles of clothing you can wear in the cold. I liked the little details like that. They made me feel like I could follow Liam Neeson up Mt. Everest if I had too.
Some of the best acting in “The Grey” isn’t just from Neeson, Dallas Roberts (“3:10 to Yuma”) and Frank Grillo (“Warrior”) are just two shining examples of the well-rounded supporting cast. Although the survivor characters aren’t detailed as much as they really should have been, you can’t help but flinch any time something bad happens to one of them (read: the entire movie.)
The movie does drag on from time to time. Those expecting a non stop action movie will be disappointed, but if you keep an open minded view to content discussed, you will find this movie is far deeper than it appears on the outside.
I found that I took away a lot from this film, and it stayed with me for a few days. I think that is what really makes the movie ticket worth it. So check out “The Grey,” and judge for your self. Just be sure to stay through the credits for a surprise.