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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review - The Grey


Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know.
Live and die on this day.
Live and die on this day.


That’s “The Grey” in a nutshell. The poem is the plot. It’s the underlying tone of the entire film. And much like Spider-Man, it’s the main characters basic creed. 

I recently had a chance to watch The Grey and let me tell you, it’s one of those films that people either loved or didn’t. If you go into it expecting to see a summer popcorn thrill ride, you will be sorely disappointed.

Full review after the jump.

The plot centers around Liam Neeson’s character known only as “Ottway” throughout most of the film. Ottway is a contract hunter. He was hired by a large oil company to protect it’s workers in the harsh Alaskan Wilderness. He is a man struggling with himself. With life. In the first few minutes we establish that he’s a man at the end of his rope. His love has left him, and he’s lost his will to go on. The poem above is his only fond memory of his father. It’s the driving force of his life.

Through a series of horrible circumstances, Ottway finds himself stuck in wilderness of Alaska, basically unarmed with a rag tag bunch of oil workers who are of questionable character, to say the least.

The group finds themselves right square in the hunting grounds of a pack of Wolves. A vicious, evil, smart pack of Wolves.

Who lives? Who dies? That’s for you to find out. However, I can tell you that it’s also not the point. The Grey is about man’s struggle to live. Not to live in the literal sense. But to LIVE. In the philosophical sense. Each member of the group has their own inner demons and obstacles that they must overcome. Some fight, some simply give up, and some never see it coming.

The Grey succeeds as a film for me in many regards. It’s beautifully shot. It’s brilliantly lit. It’s cast does an amazing job of conveying the usual personas that emerge in times of crisis. The jerk, the survivalist, the optimist, the religious, the frightened. They all play out to perfection. Liam Neeson has never met a role he couldn’t beat the ever-loving $#!+ out of. He once again shines in this film as Ottway. The Wolves could have been more realistic...but I let it slide because they were creepy as hell. Seriously. Joe Carnahan has made a film that's worth watching. It's got all the right cues and it never left me bored. Not for a second. 

One of the films greatest controversies is it’s ending. Don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you. I will say this: This film does not hold your hand and deliver a cookie cutter ending. You will have to think. You will have to reason. You will have to decide whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty type of person. On a philosophical level, the films ends perfectly. On a Hollywood blockbuster level, it falls flat.

On the whole, The Grey is a film that is not to be missed. It moved me on a deep level. I questioned myself as most of the characters do through the film. This is not a film about survivalists. It is not “Alive.” Nobody is eating anyone, nor is it about the techniques one goes through to survive the worst possible countryside on the planet Earth. It’s about humanity. It’s about living. Most of all it’s about making the choice to live or die when presented with insurmountable odds.

4.5 of 5 Geegamons!

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