Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Grey (2012)

Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts

John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works for an oil company. His job is to hunt and kill wolves on the property which he works in Northern Alaska. The opening narrative by Ottway describes the type of person he and the people whom he works with as "men unfit for mankind." They are rough and tumble men either cast away from society, or seeking refuge from a world for which they do not fit into. Ottaway and some of the oil workers are brought together as they fly out on a plane that crashes in the Alaskan Wilderness. Seven of the men survive the crash, but the crash itself is not the worst of their fate; it's the wolves who hunt them. The men rapidly realize there are more wolves than them. The weather is punishing, but the wolves are unaffected by a blizzard. Ottway becomes the unofficial leader of the group as they try to make their way out of the forest for help. One by one, things start to go very badly for the men in the group.  I don't like to give spoilers, but I will say that there is a current trend in Hollywood to not have a happy ending. Keep watching after the credits...

Writer/director Joe Carnahan does an excellent job of not giving away too much all at once. I was begging for not necessarily a happy ending, but some sort of resolve in the end of this movie. Another good aspect of the film is having a protagonist (Ottway) with a deep seated issue, separate from the plot that he needs to come to terms with. The use of flashback sequences of Ottway and his wife help to explain the type of person he is.  I could tell that there was something that the writer is not telling us with that aspect of the narrative, and it is brilliantly brought out in the ending scene.

Pushing 60 years old, Liam Neeson is today's Lee Marvin...or Robert Mitchum. His sheer size alone would make any man not want to face him in a bar fight. As a matter of fact, he was an amateur boxing champion in Belfast during his younger days.  He also has the appeal of a blue-collar worker; he could easily be a roughneck or a truck driver, yet he has the grace of a royal thespian. As he reaches his golden years, the work he puts forth today is the best he's ever done.

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