The Grey

Viewed – 31 January 2012  Cinema

In recent years, Irish-born actor Liam Neeson has enjoyed a resurgence in mainstream popularity following the hit kidnap thriller Taken.  Now Neeson is the new poster boy of cool, and with this man vs the elements plane crash drama, he’s not pitted against terrorists, but that of nature itself.

As one member of an oil drilling team, Neeson must use his skills as a hunter to survive the harsh wasteland of the Alaskan wilderness, following a horrific plane crash.  As the group of men battle the raging blizzards and try not to freeze to death, they must also try to outwit a pack of wolves that begin to hunt them, and are soon picking the men off one by one.  What got to me about this movie was not the setting, nor the wolves, but the realistic emotion on display as the surviving men bond, open up about their families, and change over the course of their journey.   In many ways it touched me, which I wasn’t expecting.  Neeson of course is brilliant, lending real weight to the story; hung up on thoughts of his wife and the responsibility he finds thrust upon him.  Aiding him are several recognisable faces and the different characters are all well realised.  The wolf attack scenes are done well, even if some close-ups give away their animatronic counterparts, but this is barely noticeable.

Director Joe (The A Team??) Carnahan’s movie is expertly shot however, making the harsh Alaska setting quite beautiful at times, and there’s many clever camera tricks and subtle effects to enhance key moments, like the very real plane crash.  Smatterings of humour also work well to break up the tension, and along with a ballsy ending that will linger in your head (and heart) for a good while afterwards … this was powerful and surprising.  A must see.

Verdict:  5 /5

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