Once More Into the Fray.
I’ve known about this movie’s existence for a while now, but I never had any interest in seeing it. It certainly wasn’t the fault of the main actor in the movie, ‘cause that guy is this shit. I really can’t say what kept me from having any interest in seeing it, but it just kind of looked boring to me. I had seen it in RedBox for a while, but never felt like I was in the mood to see it. It might be because it looked like a drama and I tend to not like those, but it also looked like it might have some action in it. When I was looking through the RedBox this last time, I picked Chronicle because that seemed like a cool movie, and I finally submitted to the wiles of this movie and picked it out as well. I might as well give it a chance. So let’s see what happened as I review The Grey, written and directed by Joe Carnahan, and starring Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, Jacob Blair, Ben Bray, and Anne Openshaw.
John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a total fucking bummer. He works in Alaska, killing wolves that try to attack an oil drilling team, and has had some issues with his wife Ana (Anne Openshaw) that we don’t fully understand just yet. Whatever these issues are that keep him separated from his wife, we know they’re affecting him to the point where he tries to commit suicide, but his gun doesn’t fire. Giving up really quickly, he goes on about his life, boarding a plane with other employees of the drilling team. He goes to sleep on the flight, but wakes to find the plane plummeting out of the sky. He manages to survive, along with Hernandez (Ben Bray), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), Flannery (Joe Anderson), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), and Burke (Nonso Anozie). They make a fire to stay alive in the freezing cold, but soon find out that they’ve got other problems as a pack of wolves is hunting them.
I’m as torn about my feelings about this movie as I was about watching it in the first place. I didn’t like the movie, but I respect it. It was kind of slow moving and boring, but they did try to fix that by occasionally having someone get eaten by a wolf, or die in some other horrible way. It builds some solid tension and is an interesting study of the personalities of these people in a similar way to Alive, without them getting hungry enough to eat each other. At least I assume all that stuff I just said was true, having never seen the movie Alive, but I’m pretty sure that’s what happens in it. But this movie also seems to fall into a pretty set pattern. It deals with some interpersonal problems within the group that’s typically pretty slow and uneventful for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then they deal with some situations that will probably lead to one of the survivors losing their “survivor” title, and then back into the character study. Some people might be able to find the personal side of it interesting, but the movie’s pattern translated to me as, “Boring part, death part, boring part. Repeat.” You can practically set your watch by the times when people in this movie die too. I’m sure that was a conscious decision, realizing that the interpersonal stuff would be interesting to a certain audience, and the rest of them would just be waiting for a wolf to drag off another survivor, but it still just resonated as boring to me by the time it was over. I already found myself bored by the end of the movie, and I was not a fan of how the movie ended. But, since I stuck it out through the credits, it showed something afterwards that would’ve made me feel a little better if it was part of the movie proper, but I didn’t really count it since it was an after-credit sequence.
I took a good degree of issue with the look of the movie. Part of me wants to say that the way they filmed it made it more immersive to the audience, helping us feel as if we were trapped in a blizzard as the snow was falling in our face and having us question what we couldn’t see when it was too dark. The other part of me realizes that I was watching a movie and this stuff made it difficult to see what was going on sometimes. If you put a thicket of trees or a flurry of snow in front of us, or just make the bulk of the scene occurring in shadow, then I just can’t see what’s happening, and that makes for an annoying movie. The settings were all very nice to look at, but they got in the way of the scene on more than one occasion. I found the wolves in the movie occasionally less than convincing, and they seemed to realize that their wolves sometimes looked straight out of Twilight so they would do as much as possible to not have to show them. There was one cool and stylized scene where the wolves were in the shadows and all you could see of all but one of them were their eyes glowing in the shadow that was pretty nice, but other times weren’t. Sometimes a wolf attack just looked like someone had a fake wolf head on a stick and they were jamming it into an actor’s leg or something, and other parts they just showed some bushes shaking to show us that we just missed the wolves running through there. If only we had looked a second sooner!
It’s really no surprise that Liam Neeson is awesome. He keeps that up in this movie with his quiet badass performance, reminiscent of his character from Taken, but more depressed so I guess it’s that guy if his daughter decided that she wanted to stay with that Sheikh at the end of the movie. The other characters in the movie were all good as well. Frank Grillo played a good asshole who I hated for the bulk of the movie, but he was going for that.
I’m fully aware of the fact that the majority of the reason I didn’t like The Grey was because of my desire to be constantly entertained. The great performances aided in a good story that studied the tension building between the group of survivors while they periodically got picked off by their surroundings, but the picking off was too short and too spread out by uneventful boring bits that left me bored with the movie in general. There were problems with the look that I would say were not entirely my fault, but I would say that, though I didn’t like the movie, it is worth a watch. There are definitely people in the world that would enjoy this movie; I’m just not one of them. The Grey gets “It’s good that it hurts” out of “Maybe I’ll turn into a wolfman now.”
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