The Grey (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 1:06 AM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

THE GREY (2012) - Joe Carnahan

"Man v. Nature" is one out of the seven basic conflicts of a story. It is commonly found in many disaster films such as Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow or 2012. However, this conflict is also introduced in tales of survival in remote regions like a desert or a forest. In all likelihood, the most famous and well acclaimed film of this type is Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Joe Carnahan, who previously did The A-Team, reunites with producer Ridley Scott and actor Liam Neeson. This time, they are heading into the wild mountain, where Man will pit himself against the Wolf.

The Grey is a $25 million budget film based on the short story "Ghost Walker" by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who surprisingly co-wrote the screenplay with Carnahan for this film. Liam Neeson plays John Ottway, a man whose job is to kill wolves that threaten an oil drilling team in Alaska. Upon completing the job, the team and Ottway head home on a plane that crashes in a violent blizzard. The Grey follows these men, who are now forced to survive using more than their wits as a pack of wolves stalks them.

The first element that makes The Grey work is because of the direction. Each human character represents a specific type of person who would respond to such events. Similar to the cliche platoon of World War II movies, the group of men in The Grey all have their own uniqueness and, enhanced with a tightly written script, expressively present their characters out. Liam Neeson, most known as Oskar Schindler in Spielberg'sSchindler's List, has been doing mediocre films recently. These films include TakenClash of the Titans,Unknown, and Joe Carnahan's previous film, The A-Team. Pleasantly, Liam Neeson finally breaks out of his stiff character and plays the perfect protagonist who questions his own life.

The second element is the setting itself. In classic Western movies, directors constantly use establishing shots to reveal the arid canyons and burning sunset. In John Ford's Stagecoach, the Wild West itself was a character of its own, an abstract character. There is more to a movie than just the compelling story. There is also the entire world that the characters live in. The Grey was extremely clever on this part. It displayed several smoothly flowing shots that exhibit only the mountains and snowy trees. As the journey of our men progresses, the movie progressively immerses us into the wilderness of Alaska, which brings me to the subject of the wolves. The wolves were presented in a very biologically accurate fashion and it truly helps the film, making nature as real as ever. What Joe Carnahan did right here though is that he portrayed the wolves as still a part of nature. They are undeniably horrifying indeed, but they were never presented under a negative light. There was never "Man is good" and "Animal is bad". Therefore, when any certain character dies by the wolves, it shocks us how nature can swiftly take someone's life, yet we have to let it go because it is a natural flow of -- nature. Amplify that with heart pounding tension and we are given a well-crafted and well-executed "Man vs. nature" movie.

Even though The Grey possesses everything that one would ever want from a good "Man vs. nature" movie, Joe Carnahan achieved something greater: the third and final element of The Grey's near-perfection. Underneath the simplicity of staying alive, The Grey bears a philosophical agenda. It successfully creates a second layer that can spark debates after the viewing. Surprisingly, this is actually a film that can qualify to be viewed and studied in high schools. As silly as it sounds, it is true and the best part of it, it is fitting and appropriate.

In conclusion, The Grey was a pleasant surprise. Similar to what Chronicle did to the "found footage" genre,The Grey redefined the "Man vs. nature" genre and is living proof that movies can take a cliche plot but deliver it under a different light. I am pleased with Joe Carnahan's direction in this film and I am eager to see what he would direct next, hopefully not another noisy film like The A-Team. Furthermore, I am delighted to see Liam Neeson return full force and The Grey is proof that he is indeed hungry for more.


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