Directed by Joe Carnahan
A very surprising January release, The Grey is a thoroughly engrossing survival thriller with a great lead performance by Liam Neeson and the perfect blend of action and drama.
Liam Neeson delivers what could very well be his strongest performance since Schindler's List. His role, riddled with deep-seated anguish and moral complexities, is perfectly suited to Neeson, whose appearance and demeanor becomes increasingly more haggard as the film draws to a conclusion. Grillo, Mulroney, Roberts, and the rest of the cast deliver perfectly acceptable supporting performances, but this is very much Liam Neeson's show, and he runs away with it.
As is the case with any survival movie, the number of survivors steadily decreases one-by-one as the movie draws near the conclusion. And naturally, as their numbers decrease and the wolves become more ravenous, the mounting sense of desperation reaches a new level of urgency. As the story progresses, we are given brief back-stories and development which prove quite effective in making the characters more than the one-dimensional future wolf food that they easily could have been. Neeson's undefined but emotionally resonant character provides the backbone of the film's sympathetic core, which is to be expected, as his is the only role explored in any detail.
I wasn't too enthralled by their treatment of the wolves, which are presented as the ravenous, psychotic, devious antagonists. After a particularly impressive plane crash sequence near the beginning, the wolves provide the majority of the conflict for the small group of survivors throughout the rest of the movie. Already battling the harsh elements, starvation, fatigue, and their own personal conflicts, these men are forced to face off against some of the most vicious animals in movie history. The battle of wits between the men and the wolves feels forced and quite frankly, a bit absurd, but this is one minor complaint I am willing to overlook due to this movie's surprising lack of any other noticeably detrimental flaws.
Going into the movie with fairly high expectations, The Grey still managed to impress me. Few survival movies are able to achieve this level of emotion while still being able to keep you on the edge of your seat during thrilling sequences of action and violence. Usually a movie will go one way or another with action and human drama, but this one succeeded at both.