last long, but the plane crash sequence at the beginning of ‘The Grey’
is easily the best part of the film. It’s here that writer/director Joe
Carnahan throws everything at you; it’s sensory overload, and it works.
You get the feeling that a large part of the film’s budget went on
putting this one convincing and terrifying sequence of shots together.
Neeson plays John Ottway, a hunter who has been employed to track and
kill the wolves that threaten workers in the Alaskan wilderness. When
Ottway survives a plane crash, along with a handful of his fellow
workers, he becomes an instant expert. Those wolves are out for blood,
and won’t be satisfied until none of the encroaching humans remain on
background of Neeson’s character is kept deliberately sparse, and the
viewer is asked to do quite a lot of heavy lifting in order to piece the
story together. This gives the movie a very stark, ‘here and now’ feel
which works particularly well.
shame that the final scene is handled so clumsily, and the film-makers
choose to spell things out to the audience through some crude dialogue
choices. There are plenty of visual clues in the scene, so why not treat
the viewer with some modicum of respect and let them work it out for
‘The Grey’ looks like it’s going to tuck itself neatly into the
stereotypical mould for monster movies. There are certainly plenty of
scarier moments, and the cast of characters are whittled down with
alarming speed and ferocity, as you’d expect. But it quickly becomes
clear that gore and cheap thrills aren’t the focus here. ‘The Grey’ is
more of a psychological journey. The pack of wolves are just one facet
of the battle being waged inside Neeson’s John Ottway. There are themes
of life and death, cold reality versus inner faith. One powerful moment
has Ottway screaming at a white-washed sky, demanding that God give him
a sign. The cold, cruel Alaskan wilderness is an inspired choice of
setting, and the perfect place for these battles of heart and soul to
the exterior shots have a persistent graininess to them, and this suits
the overall mood of the film. The soundtrack hits all the right
emotional notes: Soft, lilting music accompanies Ottway’s flashback
moments, whereas the scenes in the wilderness are genuinely frightening.
You’ll be subjected to the constant heckling of the wolves, and just
like the characters, living in constant fear of the next attack.
3 Featurettes on the disc. Each of them runs for only a couple of
minutes, and they have the look of teaser trailers rather than genuine
‘behind the scenes’ footage.
The Extemes: A short film which
explores the hardships of the environment in which the movie is set.
Into the Fray: This one talks about the
story itself, and key performances.
Man Versus Nature: A look at the
antagonists of the movie, the wolf pack, and their environment.