So how does a survival movie fare with a pack of hungry wolves hunting their human prey? How does the audience feel when the humans are low on respect for life, their fellow man and themselves? Despite the feeling that this movie had only one way to turn we still went along for the ride. Similar to the Titanic you feel you know what’s going to happen but you simply can’t look away and want to see it through to the end.
Looking at reviews prior to attending a movie review is considered wrong by most reviewers. I agree, the whole idea of attending the review is to judge the unobstructed impact on yourself and the audience. So what drew me to investigate “The Grey” prior to attending this review I don’t know. Possibly the topic matter of humans on the run from wolves meant I wanted to check the ‘scare’ factor to see who I would invite along for the ride. This presented me with a conundrum as the movie was rating over average but the general public who had seen it were split at the extremes. Some saw it as an existential masterpiece and scored it 9 or 10 out of 10 while others couldn’t believe the stupidity and scores ranking in the 1s and 2s followed.
The storyline takes us along with some of the roughest scum on the planet as they leave their work in the Alaskan oil fields to fly out for a break back in civilisation. After a plane crash puts them down in an arctic wilderness it’s survival time with the local wolf pack guarding their territory against the quibbling intruders. Liam Neeson plays Ottway, a hunter who’s been hiding from life in a job where his role has been to protect the pipeline workers from the hungry wildlife who stalk the workers. He’s a mixed up bag as he saves others but seems bent on his own destruction. After the plane crash, he starts to try and bring direction and unity to the surviving band of misfits with no purpose. They are less than impressed with being told what to do and like any organisation, their disunity brings decay and decay brings death.
I’m not going to tell you the outcomes blow by blow, that’s the nature of this style of the movie as one event leads to another as the ‘red-shirt’ members of the party fight to live. So why did the audiences love or hate this release? Was it the expected ending, the cast or worse the soundtrack? Director Joe Carnahan has proven himself a great director and for those who have enjoyed The A-Team and Smokin’ Aces, it’s easy to see he’s putting out some good content as both writer and director.
I’m concerned audiences are starting to see him as gravy beef
If you’ve seen both of these previous productions you’d also be aware that their storylines have their fair share of humour. That I think is where Joe went wrong even if it was without intention. The movie is visually impressive. The tension builds well as the cast looks to avoid becoming top of the wolf menu and there is a reasonable amount of both humanity and disdain built around the cast to make you want to see them survive or die. Where the movie fell on its face is a couple of times where the physical or visual result on screen was so outside realism that the tense audience burst out laughing. The story then lost momentum and I don’t think it recovered. It didn’t matter then how much strong language, gutsy characters or grotesque scenes you threw in, it still was off pace with the rest of the movie. All up a great movie spoilt by two episodes that probably take up one minute of the whole film.
Joe Carnahan has lots more to offer so I hope he learns from this outing. Another person I hope learns a lesson is Liam Neeson. He must be considered the ‘rabbit’s foot’ of the movie industry at the moment. The number of movies that require the ‘Neeson’ attachment is astounding. Since 2008 he has been in at least 18 movies and three TV productions of which three were voice roles. You can’t get away from the fact he is a talent but I’m concerned audiences are starting to see him as gravy beef because of the volume of appearances when he should be the scotch fillet. Let’s get back to the quality we know and expect when we remember Schindler’s List.
All up a good experience if you like your movie on the edge.
3 out of 5 popcorns