What else can I say other than Liam Neeson, you have done it again. As was also the case with Taken, you have taken a movie that I was excited to see but had relatively average expectations for, and just blew me away with it. The Grey was an intense film experience, one that takes you on an emotional journey as the group of Alaskan oil men struggle to survive in a brutal tundra like wilderness. The characters were great, the camera work was amazing and you felt like you were out there with these men fighting for your life. I know that sounds corny and over the top, but that is how I felt while watching this.
The story follows Ottway and a team of oil riggers who were in a devastating plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. They were transporting the entire team from the oil site and as they were flying, the plane badly malfunctions and crashes. The audio and visual effects during the crash were great. It didn’t use over the top CGI effects, rather it used a lot of closeups and dramatic movements to make you feel like you were on the plane. It was one of my favorite crash scenes that I’ve ever seen (off the top of my head, only the train crash scene from Super 8 beats it). The back and forth cutting between the present disaster and the flash back to Ottway lying in bed with his wife were amazing. You went from intense plane crash sound effects and explosions, to silence.
The aftermath of the crash was brutal. Debris everywhere, fire, blood, dead bodies and dying bodies. It was total and utter destruction and Ottway rallied the troops, doing his best to recover any sense of order that was salvageable. Right when things started to settle down (as best as they can in below zero temperatures and scalding winds), things went from bad to worse…way worse. It was discovered that they were in wolf territory and their fight was now against the elements and a pack of blood thirsty wolves.
The story ended up being one of immense struggle and battling for survival, taking us on a journey with a group of men being brought to the absolute brink. This may come across sounding weird, but I just loved it because it was men being men. It was the ultimate manly movie, one of the better ones that has come out in recent years. It forced the characters to really become animals themselves, while battling with their past human lives and memories. It was a great struggle and it was portrayed wonderfully.
There was so much to love about this film, and I can’t go without mentioning the visual appeal that it had. The camera work did a great job to make you feel and understand the vastness and helplessness of their situation. The long shots and wide angle views of the environment was so intense and made you really feel for these characters. The blistering wind and overwhelming snow flurries were brutal and made me feel cold just watching it.
The final thing I will mention that I really appreciated about this movie was the fact that it was rated R and they didn’t try to hide it. This could have easily been a generic PG-13 movie if they wanted it to be, but the director and writers clearly did not have that in mind. The characters are oilmen fighting for their lives. If this was real life, the guys would swear, and they would swear a lot. There are countless f-bombs, a dirty story and a lot more profanity in the dialogue that makes it just feel real. They say fuck…a lot. And that was awesome. If they didn’t use that type of dialogue, it just wouldn’t have felt authentic. I know it sounds like a strange thing to like and mention in a review, but that is how I felt and I guarantee you will notice it too. Combine that with the gore that comes to (and from) the wolves, and The Grey really took full advantage of it’s R rating and it made the film that much better.
I already know this is going to be one of my favorite movies from 2012, and I’ll leave you with one last tidbit. If you see this movie, stay until after the credits.
The Grey: 9/10