Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: The Grey

If you haven’t noticed, Liam Neeson has carved himself a nice niche as an action star.  In a genre where chiseled jaws and artificially augmented biceps inflict most of the damage, Neeson (Taken, A-Team, and Unknown) is showing that grey beards can still kick butt on screen and at the box office.   His latest flick - The Grey - is two hours of mental and physical warfare expertly captured on screen by Joe Carnahan.

The plot places a spiritually broken Ottway (played by Neeson) stranded in the Alaskan wilderness with a battered group of rough necks after a plane crash.  Stranded and lost, the band of misfits must overcome brutal weather conditions, deep physical injuries, and packs of vicious wolves to ensure their survival.  It’s the mental and physical fight to live that defines the plot and makes this film not only about the men themselves, but also about the loved-ones they’ve left behind.  You never see them onscreen in the present, but their presence in the stricken psyches of those men is strongly felt.

Liam Neeson does a fantastic job of playing a damaged man teetering on the edge.  You can almost see the baggage he is carrying embedded within the creases of his weathered face.  As for the rest of the cast, Dallas Roberts, Dermott Mulroney, Nonso Anozie, Frank Grillo and Joe Anderson serve as Neeson’s fellow plane crash survivors.  Each do an admirable job infusing distinct personas into characters that could have easily become faceless mechanisms for plot advancement.  Grillo as Diaz particularly stands out for taking his character through the full spectrum of emotions associated with death. 

From top to bottom, The Grey is a well-made movie.  The challenge of the elements and the ever-present sense of danger are palpable – so much so that the film feels like a visual form of punishment.  By time the credits rolled, I felt fatigued and a bit of despair.  Whatever a feel-good-movie is to you, this film is the exact opposite.  So if you are wondering if this is a quality movie, then the answer is a resounding yes.  As for whether it is an entertaining one - that is best left to be decided by the individual and his/her preferences.

Standout Performance: Kudos to Dermott Mulroney for starring in a movie that does not have the word “Wedding” in the title.


  1. Well said. However, don't you think a few parts were a little unbelievable? I'd go as far as to say that a couple times, it seemed as though the writers just got a little lazy. But only a couple times. Overall - definitely worth seeing... but definitely not a pick-me-up film.

  2. I agree with jb. There are some parts that stretch the lines of reality. It was ok, at best, I think. It definitely is not Neeson's best, though he was really solid in it. I actually like A-Team better than this one.