The Grey

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Ralph Ottway (Liam Neeson) works in Alaska, killing wolves that threaten an oil drilling team. On his last day on the job, Ottway writes to his wife, Ana (Anne Openshaw), a letter explaining his plans to commit suicide. However, he doesn’t follow this through. The next day, the plane carrying the team, including Ottway, crashes in a blizzard. Ottway sees a vision of his wife urging him not to feel afraid, and awakens to find one of the team, Lewenden (James Badge Dale), mortally wounded. Ottway calms him, and Lewenden dies. Taking charge, Ottway sets the survivors the task of building a fire. While doing this, he discovers a corpse, and is attacked by the gray wolf feeding on it. After saving Ottway, the group surmises that they are in the wolves’ territory. They decide to take turns keeping watch for the predators.

Later, Hernandez (Ben Bray) is killed by two wolves, and the group discovers his body in the morning. Ottway suggests they leave the crash site, but Diaz (Frank Grillo) questions his leadership. While searching for the wallets of their deceased colleagues, intending to return them to their families, Diaz finds an emergency wrist watch containing a radio beacon. The group then leaves the site. While walking through the snow, Flannery (Joe Anderson) falls, and is killed by wolves. One of the group sees a pack of wolves approaching, and the survivors run for the trees, lighting a fire in an attempt to ward off their attackers. The group sets about producing makeshift weaponry, and Diaz threatens Ottway with a knife, but is disarmed. They then kill and eat an omega wolf sent by the pack leader to test them. Diaz, as a symbol of defiance, cuts the head off the cooking corpse and throws the head back at the pack, a move noted by the group as unwise, as wolves are the only creatures known to take revenge. While sitting around the fire, Diaz tells the group of his atheist beliefs, and Talget (Dermot Mulroney) states he believes in God. Ottway states he is also an atheist, but wishes he could believe. A blizzard approaches, and the survivors set to maintaining the fire.

In the morning, Burke (Nonso Anozie), who had been suffering from hypoxia, is found dead. The remaining survivors leave the camp, and travel to the edge of a steep canyon. They secure a line, and Diaz and Ottway traverse the canyon. Talget, however, is afraid of heights, and loses his glasses. His injured hand becomes caught on the rope, which breaks. He falls to the ground, and is dragged away by wolves. Diaz attempts to save Talget, but fails, and injures his knee. The three remaining survivors continue, and arrive at a river. There, Diaz explains that he would rather die there than return home to a meaningless life. He refuses offers of help, and asks Ottway whether death would bring him comfort. They part company, and Ottway and Hendrick continue on together. Left alone, Diaz hears the wolves approaching. Further long the river, Ottway and Hendrick are set upon by wolves once again. In an attempt to flee, Hendrick falls into the river, and is trapped beneath the surface. Ottway attempts to save him, but is unsuccessful, and Hendrick drowns.

Ottway, cold and wet, continues alone. He falls to the ground, and the pack of wolves surround him. Ottway places his colleagues wallets in the snow, along with the undelivered letter to his wife. As the alpha wolf approaches him, he recites his Father’s poem once more and arms himself with a knife, the wire antenna from the emergency wristwatch and shards of glass tied to his hand, and attacks. The screen cuts to black and the ending is left ambiguous.

In a post-credits scene, the back of Ottway’s head is seen lying on top of a panting wolf’s stomach. The ultimate fate of both Ottway and the wolf is not made clear.

REVIEW:

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be on a plane and have it go down in the Arctic lands of Alaska? Should you survive the crash, you’re sure to be hunted by bloodthirsty, vicious wolves. Who could survive such a thing? Well, how about Liam Neeson in The Grey.

What is this about?

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. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren’t alone.

What did I like?

Wolves. The wolves are the antagonists of this film. To an extent, they are a caricature of what wolves actually are, but the filmmakers did make sure they were accurately portrayed. There are some things that seem a bit far-fetched, but are actually true, such as the fact that wolves are the only animals that will seek revenge. On the flipside of things, though, there are stretches, such as the howls and growls which don’t really sound very wolf-like. Someone in the sound editing department went a little mad scientist with that. Altogether, though, the thought of being hunted by these fierce creatures, while fighting the freezing cold elements will surely mess with your head a bit.

Skills. As we learned in Taken, it is best not to mess with Liam Neeson, as he has a specific set of skills. I really believe they could have bridged this and the Taken franchise together, is they did it right, but that’s just me. At any rate, Neeson, maintains his cool, calm demeanor throughout the entire film, even when he is about to be attacked by the alpha wolf. Truth be told, if not for his skills, the crew would not have made survived as long as they did.

Effective. A couple of things that turned out to be real effective in this film and helped with the tone. The first was the plane crash. Through the use of a handheld camera, the audience feels as if they are really there, going down with the plane. I bet it was even more effective on the big screen. Second, the final fight with the wolves. Given the way the picture plays out, I do not believe there needed to be an action-packed conflict. It would’ve ruined the tone. The director obviously throughout the same way, and all we got was the teaser of what may or may not have happened afterwards.

What didn’t I like?

Misleading. For those of you expecting some fast paced action flick, you won’t get that with this film. This is a very introspective work, to be honest. However, every trailer I recall seeing had this looking like it was nothing but Liam Neeson kicking ass and taking names, which we don’t see until the last scene, and even then we don’t see it.

Character. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything for the other crew members. They seemed to be just supporting characters to Neeson. Part of this surely has to do with their actions in the opening scenes, but they are still human beings and one would imagine there should be some kind of compassion for them. I just couldn’t muster any.

It seems like every day I would flip through the films on Netflix and The Grey would pop up. At first, I avoided it, but the more it came up, the more curious I became, until finally I caved and decided to give it a shot. I must say that I am ever so glad I did so because this is one of those films that is understated but will also blow you away. I highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

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