The Grey

The Grey has the ingredients for a juicy genre film, which the movie is... and isn't.

Take one bad-ass actor. Throw him in the middle of nowhere. Pit him against a pack of wolves. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for a juicy genre film. The Grey is that film, and it is not. Liam Neeson plays the bad-ass who, along with colleagues posted in Alaska, crash lands into a snowy landscape with no hope of rescue. They soon realize that, by their very presence, they have threatened the territory of a pack of wolves, and so begins the survival game.

Director Joe Carnahan, after the stinker A-Team (2010), comes back roaring with a movie that is much more than what the trailers indicate. This is a survival-thriller with subtext. It is not fast-paced nor exploitative. Instead, it is paced rather leisurely (for its genre), and takes its time to explore Neeson’s character’s psychological state. This is a man who starts as someone ready to die, but through the movie, he becomes a man ready to face death — there is a difference and we see that difference. Much like the plane crash scene that triggers the main-plot of the movie, what the movie shows us is not glorified for the audience, neither is it made a spectacle for the visual power it could carry. Instead the movie, and key scenes, are played out for their effect, much of which is based on the audience’s understanding of what’s going on. In doing so, the director shows great restraint, as well as a level of patience hardly seen in present-day mainstream filmmakers.

The Grey is not flawless; far from it. While the first & third act are excellent, it falters in its second act. A few deaths do seem forced, the director/script succumbing to the genre conventions, and these are dealt with in a by-the-numbers way, with little creativity about it. But, even for its flaws, this is Carnahan’s return to form. If riding on the name of Liam Neeson in the lead-role for publicity and marketing The Grey as a genre movie brings the audience into the cinema, to bring such evolved movies to the general populace, so be it. And with a kick-ass ending like that, it is difficult to not be awed by it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.