The Grey (2012)

Liam Neeson versus CGI super wolves. Ding ding! Fight!

In the deep cold of an Alaskan oil drilling facility, Ottway (Liam Neeson) works as a sharpshooter and camp protector, sniping wolves before they get too close (and consume the oil workers). These workers are the scum of the earth – brawling, drunken ex-cons who get their kicks from fucking whale sized, 53-year-old Eskimo hookers (apparently) – but, you know, they’re okay really. Kind of.

Ottway and a small collection of oil drillers board a plane back to the mainland, thoughts full of family and warmth and middle-aged Eskimo whores. But the plane crashes. Into the snow. In the middle of freakin’ nowhere.

Ottway and seven other survivors find themselves facing a terrible reality; they have no food, no shelter, killer weather and no chance of rescue. And then a pack of wolves turn up! Vicious, psychotic CGI monsters hell-bent on killing the beardy human scum that crash-landed into their territory.

The Grey then becomes a run-fight-hide scenario, not necessarily in that order. Not willing to “do an Alive” and chow down on dead man butt-cheek, the dwindling group of survivors trek South, either away from the wolves or deeper into their territory…

Coming from the writer of the underrated Death Sentence (Ian Mackenzie Jeffers) and A Team director Joe Carnahan, The Grey is certainly well scripted and directed. The first thirty minutes are certainly a compelling watch – the plane crash is superb – with more character work in half an hour than you’d normally find in 100 minutes of your average action flick.

In places The Grey is also terrifying (hence it’s appearance on Gorepress). The plane crash is superbly done and genuinely horrific; loud, panicked-filled, confusing and brutal. Then there’s the scenes at night – deep in the forest or exposed on the Alaskan tundra – which are haunting and nerve-jangling, with the sound of howling beasts lurking somewhere in the inky black. The wolves are brutal, attack at the worst moments and really provide a great threat. Scary as hell… until it the sun comes up.

The problem with The Grey is the latter half. Once Ottway and “friends” leave the wreckage of the plane behind and survive a night in the woods, the film becomes very generic and – although exciting – a little tiresome. In places it reminded me strongly of Ravenous (another seriously underrated film), The Edge and Alive, with cliff jumping, branch twatting and in-fighting abound. Nothing really surprises here.

Neeson is excellent as always and utterly believable as Ottway throughout. Originally the role was offered to Bradley Cooper, which would’ve simply been awful on nearly all levels. Luckily we’re given a cast full of mature, believable performers who all do well in their given roles. At times they can appear a little clichéd, but they all feel like multi-layered people and not just stock archetypes, which is testament to them and the Jeffers-Carnahan team.

If you love Liam Neeson’s recent foray into the world of bloody action flicks then this sits somewhere between the brutal awesomeness of Taken and the predictable nonsense of Unknown. The Grey is certain to divide audiences.

You might love it, you might absolutely hate it – I’m stuck somewhere in the middle, having enjoyed it but finding myself desperately wanting more. Overall The Grey is worth the watch. Just.

Oh, and DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER. If I could find the person responsible for taking the film’s FINAL FUCKING SCENE and slapping it into the trailer, I would throw them into a pit full of glass, salt and CGI wolves. Absolute fucking idiots. It’s worse than the spoilerific trailer for The Crazies, and that says something. So I reiterate – DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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