THE GREY [2012] movie review

March 10, 2012 · Print This Article

After the very final frame of THE GREY I sat transfixed staring through the credits as they rolled.  I thought to myself, “is this a movie people in a dark place should watch?  Will it move them out of the dark or further into it?”  I could not answer that immediately.  After the credits I went and collapsed onto my bed and stared at the ceiling for 15, 20 minutes, I am not sure.  What I was sure of though is that if you are in a dark place, THE GREY will put you further into the dark, be that good or bad.

THE GREY is the first 2012 movie I have seen.  It is a very hardcore movie, very.  At no time are the characters not in immediate danger.  You burn calories watching THE GREY.

Liam Neeson has a most unusual occupation, he shoots wildlife, mostly wolves, as they move in to try and prey upon oil workers out in the open.  He seems to despise himself for doing such a job, even though the opening scenes make it apparent he is very good at it.

The crew working at the oil camp are off to Alaska presumably to visit their families and get some R&R.  The plane crashes and only a few survive.  If you guessed 7 survivors, you were right, but I will not give you much praise as I think virtually every survival movie starts out with 7!

The basics of the plot are nothing surprising, one-by-one the survivors are picked off by a pack of ferocious wolves.  What lifts THE GREY above countless other movies of similar story?  Liam Neeson for starters, but even more is the realness of death portrayed on the screen.  One man in the plane crash is fatally wounded, and Neeson tells him, you are going to die.  That set the tone for the rest of the movie.

It’s not that the viewer necessarily cares about the characters so much that make the deaths have such impact, as we do not get to know them very much besides Neeson’s character.  It is simply the black and white survival situation they are in.  No one finds a pack of rifles in the a suitcase.  There are no sleeping bags and tents or anything like that.  The survival skills are mostly very plausible.

There is poetry in THE GREY as well.  You never leave the hardcore views of the Alaskan wilderness, save for brief recurring allusions to Neeson and his wife.  So the only respite in the tension are the lingering shots of snow falling and the distant mountain views.  These scenes still are full of a sense of dis-ease, but they show a purity in what life is:  beautiful and savage.

As I said, there are no gimmicks in THE GREY.  There is no deus ex machina popping up to get these men out of danger.  They have only their wits and physical and mental endurance to get to the next day, and the next, if they are lucky.

Questions of faith also form a thread in the story.  Neeson has a powerful scene searching for faith.  However, this is a hardcore movie.  The men are alone, with the wolves.  The sense of how in the world will they survive is riveting, stressful and devoid of hope.  THE GREY is a dark movie, to be seen with the utmost care.


2 Responses to “THE GREY [2012] movie review”

  1. on March 24th, 2012 1:59 AM

    […] think 2012 could be a singular year for movies now already with THE GREY and THE HUNGER […]

  2. on February 28th, 2013 4:59 PM

    […] had a hard time finding ten movies I actually felt that strongly about.  Honorable mention goes to THE GREY which could have made the […]

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