46/100 (117 min, 2011)
Plot: After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writers: Joe Carnahan (screenplay), Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (screenplay)
Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney and Frank Grillo
Fifty shades of mediocrity
The thing I hate the most in the cinema is a mediocre movie. When the film is bad at least you can bitch about it in your review, point out the flaws, laugh at the lack of talent of those who made it and ultimately feel better having warned the others about the colossal waste of time watching the film was. With good movies you can always marvel at something, analyze, think about the film long after you watched it. But with mediocre films - well, not only do they feel like a wasted potential, but also you forget about them as soon as the movie is over. The Grey belongs in the last category.
The film follows John Ottway (Liam Neeson), who is a huntsman that kills wolves to protect the workers with whom he travels on the plane to Alaska. The plane crashes and the remaining survivors find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by snow, cold and pack of wolves that are very hostile to them and appear to have every intention of killing them.
And that's the whole movie right there. We observe those men walking, arguing, exchanging sappy stories near the fire and eventually getting slaughtered. That would work if the film was able to sustain any kind of tension - for that we would need characters who we care for and antagonists which we fear. The Grey has neither of these things - the group of men are simple guys and apart from Ottway the script fails to deliver any sort of depth to them - apart from one trait so that we knew which one of them just died - so we have a rebel, inappropriate gross one, a thinker and a silent one who just sits there politely.
As for the wolves they looked so fake the film almost travelled to the realm of animation whenever they appeared on screen. Also the film plays things the certain way that it basically made me root for the wolves - Neeson's character sees a wolf feeding off a body and yells "Hey motherfucker!" after which he starts running towards the wolf and...punches him. That scene right there along with "Hands up!" from Prometheus is the most ridiculous thing I saw in movies in 2012.
The whole movie could just as easily feature only Ottway, except they wanted to give us some gore to endure the length of the movie - which is still hard to do. The gore is nothing sensational, nor the attacks of the wolves are memorable. All of the actors and their characters are pretty much useless except for before mentioned Neeson and his Ottway. The depth given to Ottway is thin too but works in the context of the movie, which at least attempted at having a purpose - showing his journey to find the will to live.
Having said that, there are few redeeming things about the film - the cinematography is great and the snowy, pristine landscapes are truly gorgeous, which is only amplified by the movie's beautiful score which at times was the only thing keeping me awake. The exceptional thing in the movie, though only in parts of it, is the editing - I loved the moments when Ottway is remembering his wife and very tender and delicate times with her, only to get pulled by reality again, often when the snow appears out of nowhere in the frame with him and his wife, in his memories.
The Grey doesn't even work as a survival movie - the characters make so many damn mistakes, at times as stupid as attacking the wolf with your fists, that I was shocked it was actually a drama and not a comedy. The good thing is that watching that made me appreciate The Descent - brilliant survivor horror - only more. I may even watch this one now just to cover up the bitter taste that The Grey left.