Liam Neeson returns to the big screen in the Grey! How does this film compare to his other recent action flicks? Check out our full review!
The Grey is yet another Liam Neeson film where heís a massive bad ass, along the same lines of Taken and Unknown. This time, however, he is put in Alaska and has to survive brutal conditions and a bunch of hungry wolves. Itís the latest film from director Joe Carnahan, who also directed Neeson in 2010ís the A-Team. Neeson has clearly created a little niche for himself with these films and has developed quite a fan base because of it. Carnahan is also an established action director, having directed Narc, and Smoking Aces 1 and 2. On paper, one would think this would be a match made in action movie heaven.
The Grey opens up by introducing us to John Ottway, played by Liam Neeson, a troubled hunter with a lot of demons. On the last day of his current job, he writes his wife a letter and plans to commit suicide. His plans are put on hold after hearing a wolf howl in the background. Following this, his group embarks on a plane ride home where John just wants some peace and quiet. Unfortunately for John and his group of men, the plane cannot handle the blizzard and crashes. Now, John and his men must find a way to survive these conditions and get home to their families. Meanwhile, a group of vicious wolves are hot on the trail as they see John and his team as trespassing on their territory.
From this point on, we have your old-fashioned survival movie. Besides John, the group includes John Diaz (Frank Grillo), Talget (Dermot Mulroney) , Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), Burke (Nonso Anozie), Hernandez (Ben Bray), and Todd Flannery (Joe Anderson). Neeson, of course, is the group leader, which some accept and some fight. In some ways, it almost follows a horror movie formula in terms of a group of strangers or a group of friends that are put in an uncompromising situation and have to either work together to survive or separate and perhaps perish. There is no crazy villain or madman with a chainsaw in this movie. Itís the elements and the wolves.
The Grey has some incredible edge-of-your-seat moments that will no doubt leave your jaw on the floor. It is filled with WTF moments. The cinematography is also top-notch and itís beautiful to watch on the big screen without question. Neeson gives a heartbreaking performance of a three-dimensional character. There is one scene in particular where he is cursing out God, and itís incredibly moving and well-acted. Itís clear that Neeson is able to draw upon his own experiences in films like this. The film is also wise in having some much needed comic relief at certain points. That way the film doesnít become too heavy-handed or too extreme.
The flaws in The Grey are in the character development and its predictable nature. Besides Neeson, we really donít get to know a lot of the other characters. To be blunt, I did not remember any of their names until I checked IMDB.com. They are rather forgettable and uninteresting. Yes, we know they have families, wives, and whatnot, but besides that, thereís not a lot of depth to them. Yes, I understand itís hard to get to know them in the situation they are thrust into, but it really makes the emotional scenes in the film lack a certain punch. As far as the predictable nature, Iíd compare it to a horror film in which you know when someone is going to perish and how. It kills the suspense in the film.
In the end, The Grey is a well-acted, well-made and surprisingly good flick for a January release. I recommend it, but canít help but feel as though if a few tweaks were made, this movie would have been an emotional punch in the gut and a great movie instead of simply a good movie that is watchable and entertaining. A lot has been said about the ending, and Iím sure everyone has been told to stay through the credits. I admire what the director was trying to say and what he was trying to do, but it does feel like a bit of a cop out. You canít build it up and then leave it like that. All things considered, The Grey is one of the better movies currently out in theaters.
The 411: The Grey, thanks to top-notch cinematography and a great performance by Liam Neeson, is a good time at the movies. With that being said, this could have been an even better movie if they rounded out the other characters and surprised the audience a little bit more with some twists and turns instead of an assembly-line/ horror movie format for its participants. For this time of the year, you could do a whole lot worse at the movies. I just wish this film would have had more of an emotional impact on screen.