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The Grey

by

Jeff Nelson

The Grey is an incredibly riveting film that is well-worth seeing.

The Grey
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Liam Neeson has been in a wide variety of different films. However, the more recent of the bunch have been him playing in roles where he's supposed to be reckless and a power that nobody will want to mess with after viewing his brutal force. In The Grey, he plays a similar character, except this time he's in a survival flick. These man vs. nature flicks appear to be rather popular with audiences since I see them being released quite often. Unfortunately, many of them fall flat and aren't able to deliver the true tension or genuine characters in order to make the experience one to recommend. After seeing all of the trailers and TV spots for this film, I wasn't sure what to think. After seeing all of the reviews from both critics and average moviegoers, this was a must-see. Some of the opinions from critics are mixed, although the positive perspectives certainly swayed me to check this out. Hopefully my review will do the same for you.

After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. However, they aren't alone, as wolves view their presence as a threat. Without even knowing the fact that there are wolves in this feature, as soon as this plane crashes, the mere fact that they're stuck with such harsh conditions is enough to warrant tension. Soon, wolves are thrown into the mix. Writers Joe Camahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers realistically approach why the wolves are hunting them. I can picture most other flicks simply mentioning that there are wolves that want to kill and eat them. In The Grey, we're informed that since wolves are territorial, they believe that these survivors are threats to their land, therefore they attempt to kill them off one by one in order to protect their area. There are moments where this film becomes increasingly intense with plenty of action and moments where you'll find yourself sitting at the edge of your seat. Meanwhile, the pacing slows itself down just enough for us to take a breather from the action and allows us to get to know these characters. They begin to speak about their past and who they're fighting to get home for. By the time the pacing really kicks into high gear, I felt quite a bit for these characters. In fact, there are times where the writing becomes even poetic, especially towards the end. Now that I've said the strong points of the screenplay, the weak points fall more on the director's shoulders.The Grey takes place in some harsh weather conditions and the characters become weak and injured from not only the extreme weather, but from wolf bites and such. Well, they still manage to not have these injuries affect them in the slightest. For example, Ottway suffers a nasty wolf bite on the leg, yet he manages to run at full speed through snow without any issues. Another example is being in water so cold that you could die in a couple minutes, yet Ottway walks out of the water without really shivering much. Such errors stick out and are difficult to simply brush off when trying to be absolutely immersed in the film. I'm not sure why the director didn't instruct the cast to actually appear injured, weak, and freezing. Otherwise, this is a solid script that captivates the audience from start to finish.

Despite the fact that this cast doesn't portray the weather conditions as they should have, this cast does a decent job. Liam Neeson delivers as Ottway and the leader of this pack of survivors. He's convincing in the role and brings this character to life. Neeson is the biggest name to star in The Grey, although that's not to say that this cast isn't able to deliver. The remainder of the actors starring in this survival picture are Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, and Ben Bray. The acting remains pretty consistent throughout. With the combination of the writing and the acting, this film has developed some characters that are introduced quite well. While there are some characters we'll find to be unlikable, the majority of the characters are likable, who you'll be rooting for to survive. Fortunately, we have a group of characters who make smart decisions, for the most part, so you won't find yourself yelling at the television at the actions of the roles much. These actors aid in making this a convincing thrill ride.

The Grey takes place in the Alaskan wilderness. The film was shot in Smithers and Vancouver in Canada. The locations are definitely believable. Director Joe Carnahan does a wonderful job behind the camera with the shots. This is surprisingly a brutal film that isn't afraid to show the carnage. This only made the feature more intense. The plane crash in the beginning is perhaps one of the most well-shot plan crashes caught on film, and I'm not exaggerating. However, I have one major complaint about the visuals. While the wolves are captured very well in a bunch of shots, they look horrible in others. There are times where one can easily tell that CG work is being utilized. Those who have seen any of the horrible Twilight movies should know how bad CG wolves can get. While it never reaches that low of a level, there are times where it sticks out like a sore thumb. Once I put this Blu-ray disc in the player, I was hoping for an aggressive track from this. I really got what I wished for. This is a sonic assault of a track, yet remains perfectly clear throughout. The dialogue is prioritized well, so you won't have much trouble understanding what's being said. An immersive environment has been created here. The surround activity is constant from start to finish. Whether it's only the wind or if it's wolves howling around our survivors, they create an incredible atmosphere. The subwoofer is sure to shake your entire room, especially during the plane crash. The Grey features more than a loud track, but the clarity is spot on. This is a reference-quality track provided by Universal Studios.

The wait to see this was definitely worth it. I wanted to see it in theaters, but I never had the time to see it. I would have gladly paid full ticket price to see this. This is a compelling film, relentless in not only its action, but its philosophical ideals as well. The script is well-written and provides a good mix of the action and character development with smooth pacing from start to finish. This isn't your typical man vs. nature survival flick. While there are wolves in this movie a lot, it's more about the survivors and what they're willing to do in order to return home to their loved ones. The ending might strike a home run for all audiences, but I find it to be a very fitting ending to a thrilling feature. Don't forget to stay after the credits, as there's a short scene that provides audiences a more definite ending. The acting is solid and the visuals are great, with the exception of some shots of the CG wolves. The audio is outstanding, so don't be afraid to crank the audio up loud for this one. The Grey is an incredibly riveting film that is well-worth seeing. Go check it out!

My Rating = Four Stars

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