So, upon first viewing the trailer for “The Grey,” my first impulse was that it was a plane crash movie, in the snow, with wolves.
Oh, and Liam Neeson.
Well, if studio-mentality has taught us anything, it’s that you put a name in a movie to get people in the seats (see last year’s “Green Lantern” for example), and, I can honestly say, without the proclamation that Liam Neeson was in this film, I probably would not have been terribly interested in it.
But, being the film snob that I purport to be, I did a little poking around, and, Liam Neeson kicking ass with wolves notwithstanding, I saw the films was directed by Joe Carnahan and produced by two of my favorite people in Hollywood, Ridley and Tony Scott.
However, getting me out the door and into the theater isn’t as easy as it sounds, so I hadn’t intended to go see “The Grey” any time soon.
I’m glad I found myself in a movie theater yesterday, watching 24-frames-per-second of a film that was a genuine, mournful, powerful work.
While I don’t think that “The Grey” will be any kind of award contender (it’s getting enough attention from the parasites over at PETA), it is a fascinating social experiment bottled up in a thrilling, moving story.
Neeson is no stranger to accolades (he is a member of the Zone of Ruthaz, after all), but his performance in this film shows that he still has the ability and talent to shine in any roll he is given.
Of late, Neeson has taken strange rolls not befitting to his 1994 Oscar Nomination such as Ra’s Al Ghul in “Batman Begins” and Dr. Martin Harris in “Unknown,” and this is no exception. While I’m afraid the storm of media attention surrounding the animal aspect of the film will overshadow the performance, I turn anyone’s attention to a scene in “The Grey” where Ottway (Neeson) helps a man die after the plane crash.
It’s not a mercy-killing scene, but it kind of is. There’s no macho posturing, and a snapping of a neck, or a pillow over the face, just a tender moment where one distinctly damaged man in Ottway, helps a man let go and pass into the great beyond. It’s a very touching scene amidst a movie otherwise filled with nail-biting moments, and fearsome antagonists.
The movie succeeds where many fail – the characters in it are believable, sympathetic, and not over-the-top. You feel for the men who survive the crash, and feel for them as they try to survive through the rest of the film. All this is done without the feeling of being too preachy …
Except for one scene where Ottway (Neeson) has a little discussion with God (yelling at the sky), the movie succeeds in making a very thrilling story about humanity.
In most survival, or disaster movies, I always find myself trying to figure out who’s going to die first. In this movie, however, I found myself paying attention to the characters in the film and what they were doing and how they were interacting with each other, and I genuinely wanted them to survive.
Ottway (Neesson) goes on a incredible arc from beginning to end, remaining a believable and sympathetic character, but he’s not a superhero. He’s flawed, and remains so throughout the film. It was refreshing to see a performance like that in a protagonist who knew his limitations.
It’s not the kind of movie I feel that merits a lot of viewings, and it’s not one that will make it to my personal collection, but by no means should anyone take that as a derision or dismissal of the film.
Overall, “The Grey” is an interesting social commentary (I know, cliche, right?) that builds on a good cast and thoughtful direction. With the other fare available at theaters nowadays, this one is worth the price of admission.