Film Pulse Score

Release Date: January 27, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Joe Carnahan
FilmPulse Score: 8/10

The Grey is a film about a group of oil drillers in Alaska who survive a horrific plane crash, only to be systematically one by one by a pack of ravenous wolves.  Liam Neeson plays the crew’s resident wolf expert Ottway, and must gather his strength and resources in order to survive the brutal Alaskan wilderness.  Although the premise and the trailer for this film make it out to be another Neeson-kicks-everyone’s ass movie, there’s much more to this than fighting wolves with broken airplane bottles of booze.

This is a story of survival not only from the immediate dangers of the wolves and the elements, but also the burdens of life itself. It’s a film about realizing what keeps us fighting, and holding on to those things till the bitter end.  It’s through these things that we build a rapport with many of the characters, which makes it all the more tragic when they perish.

The title for The Grey is most definitely an accurate one. There is a seemingly never-ending amount of snow coming down on the survivors, a constant reminder of the harsh climate they are in.  This climate is clearly something the filmmakers focused on when making this movie.  From the brutal cold, to the howling winds, we are constantly aware of just how rough it is for these people.

From the trailer, you’re probably aware that the villains of the film are a pack of pissed off wolves. They are smart and calculating, biding their time, and focusing their attack on the weak, injured, or those that stray from the group.  They look at the humans as just another pack invading their turf. Early on, the men realize they are not being hunted for food, which changes the dynamic of the film.  They need to leave their territory, or they’ll continue to be slaughtered until they’re all dead.

Although the film is very exciting for the most part, the third act drags a bit, and could have been condensed.  I feel that they should have touched more on the effects of the cold, such as hypothermia and frost bite, as it’s unlikely you would make it in 10 below whether and not suffer these ailments. There’s no doubt that people will complain about the abrupt ending as well, however, I thought it was a perfect climax.

As survival films go, The Grey is certainly near the top of my list, with only The Edge possibly beating it.  It’s got plenty of thrills, and it’s backed with a solid plot and some very emotional and existential moments. Definitely worth a visit to the cinema.

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