The Grey (2012)

The Grey
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Strong violence, survival themes and coarse language

Director: Joe Carnahan
Actors: Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Nonso Anozie, Joe Anderson, Ben Bray, James Badge Dale

From the powerhouse producing team of Ridley and Tony Scott, the film tells of a group of oil-rig workers who find themselves stranded on the freezing Alaskan tundra after their plane home crashes. Their efforts to survive and find a way home to their loved ones are threatened when the men come under attack by a pack of vicious, aggressive wolves, who see the humans as intruders in their territory who must be killed.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 117mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Wolf it down
by Simon Miraudo,

Liam Neeson has spent much of his career playing larger than life characters, both real and fictional: Oskar Schindler, Zeus, Aslan, Rob Roy, Ra's al Ghul, Qui-Gon Jinn, John 'Hannibal' Smith. Yet, bafflingly, it's his performance as the unkillable ex-spy Bryan Mills in the good-not-great action flick Taken that looks set to become his most iconic. Something about Neeson informing Albanian sex traders about how he would dismantle them with his "very particular set of skills" sent shockwaves through our culture, because, clearly, this was what our culture had long been lacking. His decision to star in Taken - a quick pay check from a small European production - was likely made without too much concern and consideration. However, the ramifications have been enormous, not just for his career...

Liam Neeson has spent much of his career playing larger than life characters, both real and fictional: Oskar Schindler, Zeus, Aslan, Rob Roy, Ra's al Ghul, Qui-Gon Jinn, John 'Hannibal' Smith. Yet, bafflingly, it's his performance as the unkillable ex-spy Bryan Mills in the good-not-great action flick Taken that looks set to become his most iconic. Something about Neeson informing Albanian sex traders about how he would dismantle them with his "very particular set of skills" sent shockwaves through our culture, because, clearly, this was what our culture had long been lacking.

His decision to star in Taken - a quick pay check from a small European production - was likely made without too much concern and consideration. However, the ramifications have been enormous, not just for his career, but for his legacy too. Though he frequently balanced action movies with period dramas in the past, it wasn't until Taken that Neeson became something of an icon. He was no longer merely a solid, chameleonic actor that could easily go from playing Jean Valjean to the cuddly dad from Love Actually. He is 'Liam Neeson'; a figure that, in the hearts and minds of men across the world, might as well be greater and grander than a Jedi lion God with his very own ninja army. Thus, expectations for The Grey, in which 'Liam Neeson' fights rabid wolves in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, were high.

But Joe Carnahan's The Grey is not Taken. Not even close. It is a haunting, existential, and thoroughly gruelling examination of masculinity. It also has spectacular wolf attacks, although the first thing figures greater. Above all, The Grey is the first movie to cast Liam Neeson appropriately since his ascent to pop icon status (much more so than as the impotent Zeus in Clash of the Titans). Here, as the last man standing against the viciousness of nature, he is the pure, distilled essence of man.

When we first meet John Ottway (Neeson), he's hiding from his mysterious past and keeping to himself at an Alaskan oil field, responsible for shooting the rogue wolves that might endanger the drillers. He contemplates suicide on the eve of his return to the real world, changing his mind once hearing the sorrowful bays of the beasts in the distance. The next day, John and his colleagues board the small plane homeward bound, only for it to go down (in one of the most unsettling and suffocating crash scenes ever committed to film) during a storm. Ottway, and a few survivors (the excellent ensemble of Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Ben Bray, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie) are stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no food, shelter, or protection from the hungry wolfpack encircling them. They do have some alcohol, so there's that.

*Mild spoilers, here on out.*

From this point on, the guys are picked off one-by-one in typical horror movie fashion, and each of their ends are truly horrifying. But each individual - archetypes of manhood - is wiped out in a metaphorical 'survival of the fittest' sense, until, unsurprisingly, only the rational and resourceful Ottway is left. All those unnecessary, ancillary, instinctive aspects of maleness that might tie one to the world - fear, delusion, bravado, paternal instincts, a weak, fleshy form, and finally, faith - are eradicated by nature's assassins. All that remains is the atheistic, Ron Swanson-esque model of manliness played by Neeson, with no reason to fight except for the inexplicable fire in his belly.

I can't speak to Ian MacKenzie Jeffers' short story Ghost Walker upon which the movie is based, but Jeffers and Carnahan's thoughtful screenplay for the movie seems to question our understanding of what it means to be a man - as well as a human, and even a religious person - in a cruel and oftentimes senseless world. The protagonists beg for signs from God, just so they might know he's watching over them; that all this violence isn't just random chaos. But, of course, faith doesn't work that way. I was reminded of Larry Gopnick from the Coen brothers' A Serious Man, asking his Rabbi why the Lord won't heed his calls: "Why does he make us feel the questions if he's not gonna give us any answers?" "He hasn't told me."

The existential drama under the surface may offer The Grey further depth, but it's not worth a damn if it's not conveyed well within its 'survival thriller' shell. Thankfully, Carnahan does not fail here either. Where similar pictures rely on a series of set-pieces culminating in another major kill, the nightmarish experiences in The Grey flow seamlessly. Taut to the point of inciting asphyxiation, the sense of impending doom is overwhelming, even during the quieter character moments. The Grey is both a breathtaking thriller and a disturbing elegy for mankind. Many have debated the ambiguous ending, but I think it's one of the finest in recent memory, and only solidifies Neeson's performance as one of his best. He begins in our eyes as a deity, is refined into man, and ends as an animal.

4.5/5

Check out Simon's other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (93)

Terry
says
Liam Neesan seems to drawn to these dark and gritty movies and this is definitely not for the kids. Plane crash, people eaten by wolves ...
Posted Monday, 20 October 2014 See my other reviews
Mike Brindley
says
The wolves go from horror movie monsters to, well, just wolves and back again. Meanwhile the story is pretty predictable.
Posted Saturday, 30 November 2013 See my other reviews
Annie S
says
Don't bother with this one. A couple of well done wolf attacks but that's as far as it goes. Uninteresting bunch of characters with equally uninteresting conversation. They could've really developed the characters, but no. As for Liam Neeson, I've seen him act much better. And his 'know it all' character was irritating.
Posted Sunday, 10 November 2013 See my other reviews
incredibly boring!
Posted Wednesday, 16 October 2013 See my other reviews
Completely implausible plot, outcomes are too predictable and animaltronics are laughable. Liam Neeson must have been desperate for the money. A waste of my precious time.
Posted Wednesday, 4 September 2013 See my other reviews
Morgan
says
It's a bit corny, and the CGI leaves something to be desired, especially for a 2012 release. Still, I love a good, man-eating wolf story...
Posted Thursday, 29 August 2013 See my other reviews
Action and suspense. Good movie!!!
Posted Sunday, 18 August 2013 See my other reviews
Lynette
says
excellent keeps you on the edge of your seat and the end is great
Posted Monday, 5 August 2013 See my other reviews
Simon
says
Great movie - makes you think about about a few things in life and what you would do in that situation.
Posted Friday, 17 May 2013 See my other reviews
Tatzdownunder
says
What a waste of time. There's 2 hours of my life I will never get back. The only thing that "sold" this movie to me was Liam Neeson being it, and after watching it I felt that he has sold himself out for cheap advertising. I hope the wolves eat the writer, producer and director too.
Posted Monday, 13 May 2013 See my other reviews
Strangely riveting. The wolves are terrible... better CGI in the 80's, but you really get pulled into the tension. Not going to win any awards but entertaining none the less.
Posted Thursday, 18 April 2013 See my other reviews
Not a great film but worth watching
Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 See my other reviews
an interesting story. I don't think Liam Neesen had a lot of acting to do as there were some similarities to his recent real life and it showed in his face.
Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 See my other reviews
karen hedges
says
not that great a little slow and a bad ending
Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 See my other reviews
Lucky Lennie
says
The Grey promised a lot but it was relatively slow paced even though well acted. I skipped through a few scenes as they became laborious. Overall, it is an OK movie but not one that appealed to me.
Posted Friday, 25 January 2013 See my other reviews
yep, got half way through it and thought....nope, waste of time...
Posted Tuesday, 22 January 2013 See my other reviews
jcr
says
can't believe anyone thought this was good - kind of 'jaws with wolves' -bad cgi wolves at that. oh dear. Clumsy, predictable, rubbish.
Posted Tuesday, 15 January 2013 See my other reviews
magaret
says
we really enjoyed this movie.
Posted Tuesday, 15 January 2013 See my other reviews
garrett
says
I found this movie a bit unbelievable, with the guys leaving the crashed plane, where they could have been found, and the wolves so aggresive. Was this before mobile phones were available? Plane crash was best part . If you watch it on a hot day, the frozen scenery might make you feel cooler. Could not feel sympathy for the players
Posted Sunday, 13 January 2013 See my other reviews
Chris
says
Loved this movie, great ending. I am a huge Liam Neeson fan, this is one I would watch again.
Posted Wednesday, 9 January 2013 See my other reviews
Michele
says
I liked some of it but not the gory bits.
Posted Wednesday, 9 January 2013 See my other reviews
Rocky
says
Does any directors know how to end movies today? A big letdown
Posted Wednesday, 26 December 2012 See my other reviews
Denise
says
Very on edge kind of movie but I really enjoyed this movie
Posted Sunday, 23 December 2012 See my other reviews
Noelle
says
The Grey is a very silly film. I don't know what Liam Neeson was thinking when he chose to do this film. It was laughable! Noelle
Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 See my other reviews
This was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Real wolves do not behave in this manner so if the movie wanted it to be realistic they should have studied wolf behaviour properly ( check out Jack London"s stories) but if it was supposed to be fantasy then it needed much more imagination. Not any part of it was believable.
Posted Tuesday, 4 December 2012 See my other reviews
Pfurball
says
A very clever movie. A surprise twist at the end. Worth a watch.
Posted Sunday, 2 December 2012 See my other reviews
Georgie
says
Well acted, creepy movie. I like the actors and the surroundings. Very grey, cold looking. Chuck in some nasty wolves and you sure feel glad not to be there. It was a well done movie and though a lot of people didn't like the ending, I did. It was different and made a change from the usual endings. I think the problem with a lot of people today is impatience. They expect a movie to start with horror / gore straight away & go non stop until the end. Boring. You need a storyline as well. Top movie...
Posted Wednesday, 28 November 2012 See my other reviews
dreadful.... end of story...
Posted Sunday, 25 November 2012 See my other reviews
LP
says
Boring ! Could only watch the first 1 hour !
Posted Wednesday, 21 November 2012 See my other reviews
I should state spoiler alert here, but that implies it's possible to spoil The Grey. Either way, don't read on if you haven't yet, but intend to subject yourself to this. I'm a fan of Neeson generally, but this was just a way to waste a good actor. The film goes like this: Characters you can't like, or even care about are chased through the snow by wolves. They all die. The end. The plane crash was well filmed, but apart from that it was only misplaced optimism that kept me watching. The writers and producers should be mauled by wolves for this. Bleh.
Posted Monday, 12 November 2012 See my other reviews
slow and tedious. I didn't bother to finish watching
Posted Saturday, 10 November 2012 See my other reviews
Some reasonable action scenes, but to be honest...one very slow, boring, and predictable movie.
Posted Tuesday, 6 November 2012 See my other reviews
had the potential to be good...but fell off the rails completely. Liam Neeson is a great actor and the movie is no reflection on him...but give this movie a miss.
Posted Sunday, 4 November 2012 See my other reviews
Otto
says
Liam Neeson is great in this movie, but the story is a bit lame, and the ending is a real anti-climax!
Posted Thursday, 1 November 2012 See my other reviews
EV
says
It's a very full on movie and graphic...
Posted Monday, 29 October 2012 See my other reviews
A supposed expert on wolves' behaviour and survival leads a dysfunctional group of unpleasant men away from the one spot where they could be located to the one spot they needed to avoid. The film stops, rather than ends, probably because the director realized, at that point, that he had boxed himself into a literary/cinematic corner and the previous two hours had been a complete waste of time and effort.
Posted Sunday, 28 October 2012 See my other reviews
Waste of time watching... maybe my expectations were too high! Seriously predictable, far-fetched and depressing because of undertones of dying, (un)faith and suicide.
Posted Sunday, 21 October 2012 See my other reviews
Liz
says
I maintain that if they had brought the ending few shots forward and continued from there it would have been a far, far better movie. The ending was utterly pointless after everything that had been before. Director trying to be too clever. However it was great acting from the ensemble cast (if a little annoying from one of the actors) and it did make you feel very cold and very isolated.
Posted Saturday, 20 October 2012 See my other reviews
Nigel W
says
After an airplane crash the survivors face deadly wolves. Why the survivors would leave the refuge of the plane for the even bleaker snow wastes is beyond me. The end result attests to this. As far as survival movies go this one is ok, but nothing more.
Posted Tuesday, 16 October 2012 See my other reviews
Colin
says
Hopless ending.
Posted Sunday, 14 October 2012 See my other reviews
BKY
says
I enjoyed the pace of the movie and the characters but the plot and the events are totally unbelievable. How they survived the plane crash and the behaviour of the wolves in the hostile environment is really crap. Why there are no other animals like deer yet there are so many wolves? If you want to watch it, go ahead but don't attach any logic to the plot.
Posted Sunday, 14 October 2012 See my other reviews
Hayesy
says
What a shocking movie. Literally. Jumping all over the place.
Posted Saturday, 13 October 2012 See my other reviews
Lisa
says
I am astounded at how BORING this was. What a waste of my time and those who made it. Pointless, dull, gory, uniniteresting. It doesnt even deserve 1 star.
Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 See my other reviews
Movie not too bad, not one of Liam's better movies. Although he still played a great part.
Posted Saturday, 6 October 2012 See my other reviews
lyn
says
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie it is very "grey" through out but l was riverted to my chair. lt did not finish as expected was still great.
Posted Tuesday, 25 September 2012 See my other reviews
Noel
says
I think the story had potential, however let down by huge boring periods where the plot was apparently dragged out and out to fill the time. A lot of the action bits were implausible if not impossible, (ie) how do men outrun wolves?
Posted Monday, 24 September 2012 See my other reviews
Janine
says
Amazing movie, not at all what I expected. I had planned to leave the room if wolves were shown as too aggressive but instead we saw a story that was an analogy for life and death. At first I was annoyed that the behaviour of the wolves was no accurate but then I realised that it was not about wolves at all. Were these events really happening? Was this the dream of a dying man? Was this a man looking over his life and 'killing' off the parts he no longer wanted? Did the 7 survivors represent the 7 sides of human nature? Watch for the brief scene at the end of the credits and decide for yourself.
Posted Saturday, 15 September 2012 See my other reviews
STC
says
keep your finger on the fast forward button... the trudging through the wilderness scenes go oooon and ooooooon... I started rooting for the wolves
Posted Friday, 14 September 2012 See my other reviews
Purplesue
says
Don't waste your time with this one.............BORING, BORING, BORING!! I'm giving it a 2 but thats only for the scenary (which is only towards the end).
Posted Saturday, 8 September 2012 See my other reviews
Glenys
says
Not for the girls ..... Too gorry
Posted Wednesday, 5 September 2012 See my other reviews
Sybil
says
Interesting but not recommended. Liam must have been in a very dark place emotionally when he made this film.
Posted Tuesday, 4 September 2012 See my other reviews
trevor
says
Liam plays the part so well in a gripping story. Worth the watch.
Posted Monday, 3 September 2012 See my other reviews
juliekym
says
Good movie. Well worth the watch. What the actors went through to make it. Make sure you watch the extras after the movie.
Posted Sunday, 2 September 2012 See my other reviews
Matthew B.
says
Tense and riveting with a storyline beyond action/horror.
Posted Saturday, 1 September 2012 See my other reviews
Willow
says
Excellent.. Loved it from start to finish..
Posted Saturday, 1 September 2012 See my other reviews
Becstar
says
Terrible film. No real story line and pretty predictable and boring overall. Poor Liam is on the way out of Hollywood by the results of this film...
Posted Wednesday, 29 August 2012 See my other reviews
Lesley
says
the scenery was lovely but there was not enough in the story to keep me interested. A few times a story line started but then it fizzled. Too many things trying to happen and none of them went anywhere. I can't recommend this movie even though I really like Liam Neeson.
Posted Tuesday, 28 August 2012 See my other reviews
Davo
says
Absolutely hopeless waste of time watching this. It sounds like a good yarn but is a complete bore. Do not waste your time.
Posted Wednesday, 22 August 2012 See my other reviews
Loved it !
Posted Wednesday, 15 August 2012 See my other reviews
Great Movie !!
Posted Tuesday, 14 August 2012 See my other reviews
Cairo49
says
Liam Neeson is the saving grace of this one - he is always excellent. It's all been done before pretty much, only the location is a bit different. Very predictable storyline and characters and the wolves just weren't realistic. This is one that will be easily forgotten.
Posted Tuesday, 14 August 2012 See my other reviews
Strange movie with the lamest finish I have seen for a while. Neeson is good, as always but apart from a spectacular plane crash, seen from the inside of the plane, not a lot happens other than a group of oil workers trudging through the Alaskan snow, hunted by a pack of wolves, while trying to reach civilisation. Predictably, the wolves are winning most of the time. Not recommended, unless you are a Neeson fan.
Posted Tuesday, 14 August 2012 See my other reviews
Liam was good and thats it , total waste of time and two hours of my life I won't get back .
Posted Monday, 13 August 2012 See my other reviews
quibid
says
Good actors undone by others, contrasts along the way between good script writing & pathetic imagination. At the end of the day the film actually goes nowhere. It is one of those plots where the producers & director over indulge and destroy white might have been made into a good movie.
Posted Sunday, 12 August 2012 See my other reviews
What a futile storyline and film!
Posted Thursday, 9 August 2012 See my other reviews
delainey park
says
this is an awesome film i just liked it
Posted Wednesday, 8 August 2012 See my other reviews
This movie was quite painful and depressing to watch. I dont think I'd ever watch it again. Liam is quite a convincing character but his performance couldn't hold the movie up.
Posted Tuesday, 7 August 2012 See my other reviews
kathy
says
certainally kept ones attention, though would have liked a different ending
Posted Friday, 3 August 2012 See my other reviews
Much as I like Liam Neeson, I didn't like this film much at all. Very unrealistic (although predictable) and the wolves looked pretty pathetic too.
Posted Thursday, 2 August 2012 See my other reviews
Aaron Ramon Ki Re
says
Quite boring I wasn't very impressed with the story, it was a strange mix of a Terrence Malick type drama with wolves as the antagonists instead of other humans. Liam Neeson was still great but he wasn't working with the best material in this one. Watch TAKEN instead..
Posted Wednesday, 1 August 2012 See my other reviews
Jessica
says
Ok it was fairly unrealistic. But i guess it is a movie not a documentory. Liam was great. A little gruesome. I liked the ending but i wished they showed it....those who have watched will know what i mean.
Posted Tuesday, 31 July 2012 See my other reviews
Winco
says
Excellent movie. Very under played. Dark. Grim. Very real life.
Posted Monday, 30 July 2012 See my other reviews
Rob D
says
An absolute shocker of a movie. Liam Neeson was the only good thing about the film. The story line was very predictable and the wolves looked like they should have been in an animated Little Red Riding Hood or something. A complete waste of time.
Posted Saturday, 28 July 2012 See my other reviews
Denise
says
Enjoyed the movie but was hoping for a different ending. Kind of makes you feel why did they bother???
Posted Friday, 20 July 2012 See my other reviews
Mandy
says
I found the movie very predictable right up to the ending where I predicted that also. Liam was as usual fantastic and overall it was an OK movie to watch however anything Liam is in he is the star.
Posted Friday, 20 July 2012 See my other reviews
Christine
says
A good watch.
Posted Tuesday, 17 July 2012 See my other reviews
wally
says
All the wolf attacks are always in the dark a lot of the movie is in the dark very annoying the story line is fine
Posted Tuesday, 17 July 2012 See my other reviews
nic
says
apart from the burning stick torches this is a very good film
Posted Sunday, 15 July 2012 See my other reviews
natalie
says
Brilliant movie!
Posted Saturday, 14 July 2012 See my other reviews
Cameron
says
very good movie, Liam Nelson is great.
Posted Saturday, 14 July 2012 See my other reviews
Toni
says
Keeps you thinking and a powerful ending.
Posted Saturday, 14 July 2012 See my other reviews
Sharon
says
Ok film, good actors
Posted Thursday, 12 July 2012 See my other reviews
b
says
enjoyable movie, love Liam Neeson
Posted Wednesday, 11 July 2012 See my other reviews
T Rex
says
Liam Neeson is awesome as usual, but i found myself walking away from this movie a couple of times as it became really predictable,
Posted Monday, 9 July 2012 See my other reviews
Julia
says
Love watching Liam doing what he does best! Loved this movie!
Posted Friday, 6 July 2012 See my other reviews
gerard
says
Another fantastic movie by Liam Nelson they just keep coming, I cant wait for the next.
Posted Friday, 6 July 2012 See my other reviews
poshreany
says
it wasn't a bad movie, but could have been alot better, not near as good as i thought it would have been rather disappointing, i found the movie watchable i would most likely watch it again but not in any hurry 2.4/5...
Posted Thursday, 5 July 2012 See my other reviews
Larry
says
Could have been a lot better if it was a bit more realistic. Wolves hunt in packs and fear both Humans and Fire, yet in this movie they fear neither, and will actually hunt alone. All in all rather stupid, but still reasonably entertaining if you treat it as a Fantasy Movie.
Posted Wednesday, 4 July 2012 See my other reviews
Sil
says
Not bad but wolves wouldn't behave like that, so it came across as being facile and ridiculous.
Posted Tuesday, 3 July 2012 See my other reviews
Megzie
says
I found this movie didn't disappoint, was at the edge on my seat in a few parts and sad in others.... Something that's a bit different from the norm but never the less another Great Neelson flick!
Posted Tuesday, 3 July 2012 See my other reviews
Phil
says
Is that a masterpiece worthing 5 stars? No! Is it close to be one worthing 4 stars? NO! I gave 3 stars because it's simply a good movie. The storyline isn't something I haven't seen before, the action is ok, the end is surprising for a Hollywood flick. The acting was alright. The wolves were sometimes looking unreal especially when growling, sounded more like monsters! A decent movie no more no less which won't be remembered long after watching it.
Posted Monday, 2 July 2012 See my other reviews
Vic
says
After reading the reviews and seeing the previews at the movies I kind of expected more. The ending could have been done better in my opinion.
Posted Sunday, 1 July 2012 See my other reviews
Fillskit
says
You could tell right from the opening sequence that this film would be a corker. Liam Neeson is going from strength to strength in his lead character roles, playing an engaging and believable part in this gripping journey through the wilds of Alaska and the emotions/nature of man. The locations and cinematography all added to the absolute isolation of the story. That coupled with the sublime vision and craft of Ridley & Tony Scott make this my favourite film of 2012 thus far. I don't want to spoil any of it by going into details, but I shall say that there are moments in this film, which for me, really took a hold of my emotions and pulled me right into the journey alongside them. Not so much what they were dealing with, more how they dealt with it. Wow A must see.
Posted Wednesday, 11 April 2012 See my other reviews
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