Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Grey (2012)

Not so much Dances with Wolves as Punches with Wolves!

The film starts by showing us the conditions and behaviour of oil workers in an Alaskan oil field. When a plane carrying a group of the oil workers back to Anchorage then crashes; one of the few survivors on board is Ottway (Liam Neeson) whose job it was to protect the workers from wolves back at the oil field. Surviving the plane crash was the easy part though, as the survivors have to endure freezing conditions and vicious wolves who seem to stop at nothing to tear the men to pieces.

Of course Ottway’s rifle is broken in the plane crash, otherwise The Grey would not be as tense, or gripping as it is. I’ve not seen any of Joe Carnahan’s other films, but with titles such as “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane”, “Smokin’ Aces”, and “The A-Team”, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that The Grey is a totally different beast. There is much to like; most of all a driving, commanding performance from Liam Neeson. His performance puts me in mind of a big bear, albeit one who knows a lot about wolves and with great leadership qualities! Most of all he is grizzly, but we still see his wistful human side as we often flash back to time spent with his wife or father; this gives him enough background so that Ottway isn’t just a one-dimensional wolf-hater.

The rest of the cast are fine, nothing special, and it is only towards the end of the film that a few of them (the ones that are left) give us a bit of their back-story; but this doesn’t really detract from the main thrust of the film. The other major feature of the film is the scenery which is very dramatic and, perhaps unsurprisingly, very grey; all of the wide shots are very washed out and, more often than not, very cloudy. This of course all adds to the atmosphere of the film which is overwhelmingly bleak, just like the characters' chances of survival.

I can’t think of anything particularly bad to say about the film, which is a odd thing to say as it is not a perfect film; though there were a few moments when I wanted to shout at the screen "why the hell did you do that?" However it is very tense, and has some great action sequences, all driven forward by Neeson’s great performance. The wolves are very well done, extremely vicious and seriously menacing; we never see that much of them, a real case of less is more. The story is fairly straightforward, but there is enough to make the film much better than a simple resumĂ© of the plot would indicate.