The Grey (7/20/12)

The GreyMovie One Hundred Seventy Three

In The Grey, a group of oil-men fight for their lives in the frozen wilderness after their plane crashes.

John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works at an Alaskan oil rigging site to protect the team from wolves attacking. One evening, he sends a letter to his wife that he is going to kill himself, but as he attempts suicide his gun doesn’t fire. After the oil-men finish their job, they are heading home via plane when it goes down. Ottway quickly takes charge of the situation and as wolves begin to kill the men for territoriality, the team decides to make the trek to survive.

The Grey is not at all what I expected, even after reading several reviews about it. I think many people (including myself) originally wrote The Grey off as “Taken…With Wolves!” but other than Neeson playing a steely killing machine, The Grey is nothing like Taken. The vast majority of the film is a survival picture. Even the wolves take a backseat to this, though they are a critical part of the survival element.

While I found parts of The Grey entertaining and interesting, a lot of it kind of bored me. I didn’t care one iota about the team of oil-men that survives the crash and the film really wants a few of them to have touching death scenes. One scene in particular, when a man is dying and Ottway tells him that he is dying and soothes him made me feel next to nothing for the dying man because I had no idea who is was. It’s almost as if the entire supporting cast is less ensemble and more Ottway-bolsterers since he is really the one character the film focuses on. The Grey does succeed in making Ottway a neat character, though.

Since most people think the film revolves around the wolves, I will say that the CGI used for the wolves is uneven. At times, it seems like The Grey almost wants to become a horror movie, after all, aren’t most horror movies survival movies? It’s also very strange that all these men that had been living in Alaska seemed unaware wolves even existed. Many of them clamor about how big they are and they seem totally unaware they are territorial animals that can easily kill a man. Also, Ottway is basically Muldoon, the raptor keeper, from Jurassic Park explaining to these fools what wolves are capable of.

I enjoyed watching The Grey, even though I wasn’t as emotionally invested as the film seems to require. There are moments of greatness here, and a revelation near the end made a pretty solid impact, but the survival story and the men doing the surviving falls a bit flat. I realize I may seem a bit harsh on The Grey, but perhaps I was just expecting something more out of it. The parts I did like were actually great, but it gets bogged down by its own story. The Grey is certainly worth a watch but I don’t think it will be film I return to.

I give it 3 much more awesome French posters out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


31 responses to “The Grey (7/20/12)

  1. I actually liked this, but I think that was because I had heard such consistent bad things about it. I am just glad Neeson has finally found his machismo and is doing things like this.

    • I had heard a lot of middling things about it and so my expectations were pretty much inline with my takeaway from the film. I certainly didn’t hate it, just thought it was so-so. I do love watching Neeson on screen being a badass, though.

  2. I can see your point here, but this movie just won me over. It could be that I was expecting what I got or it was not just Taken with wolves. By the end I was sold.

    Great review.

  3. Good review Andy. You echo a lot of my problems with it also. The CGI was a bit shit and the supporting characters pretty non existent. Neeson was good though and I enjoyed it’s attempt at something more meaningful.

  4. Hi Andy, nice review. I thought I would comment on one aspect of it, when you say: “I didn’t care one iota about the team of oil-men that survives the crash.”

    Now I put it to you that they actually don’t survive the crash… The whole film is like Jacob’s Ladder – – and the whole film after the crash takes place in the afterlife.

    It’s been a while since I saw it, but I seem to remember a lot of the film making sense from that point of view. What do you recon?

    • That…Actually makes a ton of sense. It didn’t even cross my mind while watching the film, however. Thinking of the film in those terms, though, completely changes my take on the entire thing. The rest of the crew is one-dimensional simply because Ottway never takes the chance to get to know them. Thank you so much for bringing this up. This makes me want to watch the film again with this new perspective to see how that fits.

      Have the filmmakers confirmed this intention or is it hypothetical?

      • Yeah, I thought it made a lot of sense like that as well, although it’s not at all confirmed. I just had a quick rome on IMDb to see what others were saying about it, and there are loads and loads of theories about what it all actually means. But I also learnt (SPOILERS) That after the credits are finished there is an extra scene showing Neeson with the Alpha wolf which brings it back to reality. I found a really off the wall interpretation which I just had to share, which I’ve included below. haha

        “All the events in this film are actually a metaphor for Liam Neeson’s struggle to accept that he is a homosexual. The first piece of evidence is that he constantly dreams about a dying woman who he is in love with, which represents his dying dream of heterosexuality. Secondly, we see him point his rifle into his mouth. This has dual symbolism representing male on male fellatio, and secondly it shows that he cannot come to terms with being a homosexual so tried to kill himself.

        After the plane crashes, he is stuck will an all male crew (hint hint). He wants to save them, but is hunted by (metaphorically) homophobic wolves. Eventually, after everyone has been killed except him, he ventures into the lair of the homophobe and does battle with the master homophobe (the alpha wolf). He defeats the alpha male, and finally comes to term with who he is.

        The Grey is a reference between the middle ground of being a heterosexual (black), or a homosexual (white). Liam Neeson is unsure, so he is in ‘The Grey’.”

  5. It has its faults, but I enjoyed the film a bit more than you did. Emotionally stirring for me personally — though like you mention some of the elements fall flat.

    That final revelation did wonders for me though.

    Nice site and fine writing. Keep up the good work Andy.

  6. Great review Andy. This flick worked on many levels, but the real reason why this one was so memorable was that it isn’t your normal slam-bang, action thriller we’re used to seeing with Neeson in the starring role. There’s a lot of character development, drama, and some heart-breaking sequences that may not tug at your heartstrings, but still make you feel for these characters even more.

    • Well, it is and it isn’t. The supporting cast isn’t there to be developed so they do suffer a bit from being little more than bodies on screen, but the development that IS there is done well.

      I will say that my wife started watching this with me and gave up after about 20 minutes.

  7. Yeah, I heard a lot of the same about this one. Given my wife and I are wolf activists and work with an adoption and rescue organization in Northern California, we went so far as to boycott this film for some of the pointless sensational things they did with wolves, how they were portrayed, abused and victimized. There’s a ton of stuff on it around if you want to check it out. That being said, it was apparent from the start that this film was confused, a hodge podge of ideas from an otherwise catchy concept. I suppose some day I’ll have to see it so i can write about. Just not today. See ya around..

  8. Pingback: My July Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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