The Grey – review

I could watch Liam Neeson do just about anything.  Running around killing people and things is at the top of my list of things that I like to watch him do.  He’s an expert at this in Taken, which was way more enjoyable to watch then I thought, and he’s ok at it in Unknown, and in The Grey?…well lett’s just say there’s not a lot of killing but a lot of soul-searching and boring exposition that goes along with him and a motley gang of Alaskan workers, that go down in a plane crash.

Neeson plays John Ottway, a sniper whos job it is to kill wolves from attacking an Alaskan oil drilling team.  The film opens with flashback sequences of Neeson remembering his time with a wife or former lover, while clutching the remnants of a letter.  Ottway is headed home with the rest of the crew, but you can tell he is a deeply troubled man, and is in someway haunted by these images of the mysterious woman.

He and the crew of about thirty or so board the plane, but while it is in flight something goes terribly wrong and the plane crashes, leaving the majority of the passengers dead.  Only about seven of them survived the crash, but they are left in the middle of nowhere to find a way to survive the elements, and whatever else is waiting out there for them.  The men quickly realize that no help will be coming to save them.   There is little hope for the surviving men, but they will do anything in their power to survive and find someone to help them.

Now this may sound a lot like another film, and true story, Alive, from director Frank Marshall in 1993.  That film told the true story of a crew who survived a crash in the Andes mountains, and had to survive by consuming the flesh of the dead that surrounded them.  The Grey sounds a lot like the film, because it is a lot like the film.  At one point one of the characters even remarks, “I hope we don’t have to start eating each other like they did in that movie with the guy from Training Day.

The one major plot line that is different in The Grey, and really the only thing holding it together, is that the men must fight off the wolves that are preying on them, waiting for them to get weak so they can attack.  They continue to journey south in the hopes of finding someone, or anything to help them, but the wolves soon begin picking them off, not to mention the blistering cold.

Neeson is the leader of this pack, because his job is to kill these creatures, and in killing them he obviously knows all about them.  I love a good film about man vs. nature and its surroundings.  2010’s 127 Hours is a perfect example of how well a film can tell that story.  The Grey, unfortunately, gets bogged down by a lot of slow story-telling and periods of time that had me yawning and looking at my watch.  I felt the film would have been a lot more entertaining, and enlightening, if Ottway was the only one to survive the crash.  Only a man and his thoughts vs. the wild.  It seems that he has to carry the rest of the crew with him in order to survive.  Neeson plays such a complex character that I wanted to know everything that was going on in his mind, especially with this mysterious backdrop of a story surrounding the woman he sees in his dreams.

There are some really riveting parts to The Grey but overall the film just feels stuffy and sloppy, and wayyyyyy to long.  Neeson is great as always but even he has a hard time holding this together.

Grade: C

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