Thursday, 14 March 2013

No.79 : The Grey





The Grey at the IMDb

Liam Neeson sheds his hard as nails killer with wife problems image from ‘Taken’ to play a hard as nails killer with wife problems in this survival thriller. You can’t say the man doesn’t have range.

Neeson works as a hunter for a petroleum company in Alaska - basically when a work crew goes out to fix the pipes it’s Liam who shoots the wolves. He’s not happy though, and neither are we as we have to listen to five minutes of sentimental voice over as he writes what may be a suicide note before heading out to the pub. He downs a couple of shots, and presumably because the kebab shop is shut, heads outside to eat his rifle.

He’s about to end the film early when some howling makes him think twice - huge mistake! He heads for home the next day but his flight is of the no frills variety - the fare doesn’t even include a proper landing! Before the plane goes down he pisses off a friendly workmate so we know he’s not exactly a people person, well for now at least.

The plane goes down in the wilderness with only half a dozen survivors who include both Liam and the man he had words with - awkward! The guys gather up the salvable stuff and once we establish Liam’s gun is wrecked we meet the bad guys in the form of a pack of mostly CGI wolves. These guys aren’t after dinner, they only want to assert their authority over these interlopers. Liam assumes control and given his wolfy knowledge the rest fall in line despite the normal grumbles.

What follows is what you’d expect in the form of the group being relentlessly whittled down by the lupine louts. There are some slight deviations to the ‘Ten Little Indians’ format but as you’d probably guess we end up with Liam and one cannon fodder guy and a showdown with the marauding pack.

I quite liked ‘The Grey’ but I felt it was writing a smart cheque that its script couldn’t cash. The attempt to make Liam deep and thoughtful failed despite the constant call-backs to his wife who may have left him or is dead. There was a lot of spiritual stuff going on throughout with a couple of near death workers experiencing visions of what they loved most.

This would suggest we are delving into the realms of metaphor or allegory but I’m not buying. You could argue that they were all dead from the off and it was how they met their fate and faced it was what mattered. Indeed some of the guys don’t fall prey to the wolves with the weather and a direct lift from ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’ taking care of two of them.

The tension never really scaled the heights I expected with the attacks too far apart and too much time spent jabbering on about the meaning of life. If I wanted my mind expanded I’d gets some LSD - what you want in a Liam Neeson survival picture is some man on wolf action.

I did like a few scenes especially early on, when the darkness was lit up by more and more wolf eyes. At this point the guys knew they were screwed and that kind of fed into their approaches going forward. The ensemble cast mostly of lesser known actors did well and each got a decent dispatch.

The finale was kept enigmatic with a post credit snippet giving us a clue. I don’t always need a definite conclusion, and a helicopter showing up to save the day may have been stretching it, but something less inconclusive may have been more satisfying.

The film is worth a look but at two hours it does plod at some points and I really needed more bang sticks for my bucks if I was going to rate it higher.

THE Tag Line :  No Result - Going to Extra Time 70%

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