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Overall Rating
3.74

Awesome: 11.9%
Worth A Look69.05%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad: 4.76%
Total Crap: 7.14%

4 reviews, 18 user ratings


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Grey, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Depressing but worthwhile."
4 stars

A certain segment of the audience will want "The Grey" to be about Liam Neeson punching wolves in the throat for two hours. They’re not wrong — that would be a lovely, absurd film — but the actual movie is more of a bleak tone poem about modern man versus nature.

Neeson plays, once again, a man with a very particular set of skills: he’s a sniper who picks off wolves so that they don’t maul the guys on an oil-drilling job in Alaska. Depressed one evening, he sticks the barrel of his rifle in his mouth, then seems to think better of it when he hears a wolf howl. That comes to be a familiar sound, because when Neeson’s plane goes down en route to Anchorage, the wolves are a near-constant presence, circling Neeson and the handful of other crash survivors, waiting.

Visually, The Grey is harsh and drab, aside from a few coruscating shots of a freezing river against a backdrop of white mountains. But even that image squashes the men down to size. They don’t belong here; the wolves do. There’s no human civilization in sight; Neeson wearily advises the other men not to pin their hopes on being rescued — “Unless you want to freeze to death. That will come for you.” Director Joe Carnahan and his cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi emphasize the sharp cold and grinding discomfort of the journey. More often than not, the men are imperiled not by hungry wolves but by their own terrible luck bashing up against the remorseless physics of outdoor survival.

At times, the movie could just as well be acted out on a stage, as the men talk about their lives and their loved ones. This is the soul of The Grey, an existentialist thriller in which Liam Neeson faces down the void of God. He commands God, in less polite language: Never mind faith — earn it. Do something; show yourself. The answer is silence. Thus a Bergmanesque despair creeps around the edges of what’s being marketed as a survival action flick. One of the men becomes weighed down by the meaningless sadness of what awaits him if, by dazzling fortune, he should actually happen to survive and return to what passes for his normal life. The Grey is a hard slog and a bummer. I can’t say I was sorry it was over. But it also has the stark purity of an icicle; it earns my respect if not my love.

The dialogue is a bit overexplicit here and there, and the action (especially a bit where the men cross a divide between a cliff and a tree) feels somewhat makeshift. Ultimately, The Grey shakes out as more of a spiritual drama, the spirit simply being the will — or lack thereof — to live in the face of vast futility. The wolves might as well be bears, or cancer, or faulty car brakes. They’re not the villains; the wild is their home, and the plane crash has delivered them some unexpected dinners. Take the wolves out of the equation and you still have an environment that tests human endurance at every turn.

Narratively, "The Grey" is a little amorphous, with an ambiguous ending (a post-credits bit doesn’t clarify matters). It leaves us with some not entirely happy thoughts about humans and our role in the universe; the silence of the movie’s God echoes like a dark bell.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=23103&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/30/12 09:15:39
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User Comments

7/26/14 sbsaeaz USA 4 stars
2/28/13 ralph georgalis a fantastiic, frightning, spellbindinng, depressing, absorbing, epic that dares to explore 5 stars
2/12/13 roscoe Good, but overlong, predictable, and loses my interest in the last 40 minutes 3 stars
1/20/13 Joe smaltz Could have been a good movie, but needed a technical advisor. Just too crappy fantasy . 2 stars
12/06/12 yzer If the wolves don't look quite natural, it was intentional. 5 stars
8/27/12 David Pollastrini Great plane crash scene. 4 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison So far, the best thriller of 2012. 5 stars
6/21/12 Yannik marazia Amazing movie one of the best i've ever seen, and not because of the effects or action scei 5 stars
6/15/12 The Taitor Decent rental, good cinematography but shoddy cgi wolves and script, good ending 3 stars
5/27/12 mr.mike Quite good with Neeson fine as always. 4 stars
5/26/12 Kevin C scary as Hell! 4 stars
5/17/12 Kale A misrepresented waste of time! 1 stars
5/14/12 Monday Morning Screw you for demonizing wolves. 1 stars
3/09/12 G Scott Let the wolves win, Liam! 2 stars
2/09/12 al rudolf Not worth an ice cube. 1 stars
2/04/12 James Ragsdale Good, grim movie. Fine cinematography. 4 stars
2/02/12 Quigley A primal, relentlessly intense, bone-chilling thriller. Don't miss it. 5 stars
1/27/12 PAUL SHORTT ENJOYABLE SURVIVAL THRILLER WITH A GOOD STAR PERFORMANCE 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jan-2012 (R)
  DVD: 22-May-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  27-Jan-2012
  DVD: 22-May-2012




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