The Grey

12 Jun

Director: Joe Carnahan

Writers: Joe Carnahan (screenplay), Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (screenplay)

Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney and Frank Grillo

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 117 minutes




So Liam Neeson has a belated man of action film career. After great success with Taken in 2008 he’s back stretching his lean, muscled, but weathered frame in The Grey. This is less obviously an action film, but still it’s a role that could easily have been pushed towards younger actors such as Crowe, Cruise and Jackman. As it happens, Neeson is perfectly cast. His character Ottway is a world weary contractor working in security for an oil company in remote Alaska. He’s tired, moody and a loner. His specific job is to shoot wolves that venture too close to the oil workers and he does that job stalking the periphery of the base with rifle to hand.

The opening to The Grey is impressive. Whilst the camera pans the isolated base Neeson’s voiceover explains how the remote Alaskan location attracts loners, convicts and eccentrics. Whilst clearly one of that crew, Neeson’s Ottway is set apart and a troubled man. In that first section we start to feel some of his pain and to understand just how inhospitable the snow bound location is. It’s moody and atmospheric and sets the tone for the film.

The central story of The Grey is one of a fight for survival. There is a very well shot air crash early on that violently drops Ottway and 6 other oil workers into the snowy Alaskan wilderness. They aim to hike back to civilisation, but are stalked by a pack of wolves. As with the weaker Hopkins – Baldwin film The Edge in 1997, the air crash survivors are picked off by the unrelenting animals and the unforgiving wilderness as some rise to the occasion and others wilt. Neeson as Ottway rises furthest and takes charge of the group. He is the alpha male of that pack.

This is a very good film. It is clear that writer director Joe Carnahan set out to make a deeper film that contemplates man’s place in nature and how different men approach and deal with impending death. Neeson as Ottway is terrific from start to finish and he holds the film together. He has natural presence with his height and that voice. Here he also delivers emotion and real honesty to his portrayal of a reluctant leader fighting demons on all sides.

One Response to “The Grey”


  1. A Poem of Death – THE GREY — Isle of Cinema - July 11, 2012

    […] The Grey( Share this Hide Sites $$('div.d4310').each( function(e) { e.visualEffect('slide_up',{duration:0.5}) }); […]

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