Monday, July 9, 2012

The Grey

By Sati. Monday, July 9, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
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.
So we have those wolves, which live in their den and we have those guys who crashed there. One of them starts punching the wolf, the wolf is killed and naturally the pack wants revenge. Now still at that point of the movie it was all fine. But when the film got to the scene where the marry group eats one of the wolves and one of them actually tears his head off I just hoped all of these idiots will bite the dust, er, snow. It was one of the most sickening scenes I've seen and given how the rest of the group didn't stop the guy it speaks volumes to the shared stupidity of these guys.

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.
Liam Neeson found the perfect middle ground with this movie - between his drama movies and his action adventures The Grey settles somewhere in between, so Neeson can still show off his talent and remain bad ass at the same time. The trouble is that because the movie is such a mess it doesn't really give him moments to shine - the drama is not really moving and the action is forgettable, much like with Carnahan's previous mess of a movie - The A Team. The Grey attempts to be both of the genres - drama about man's journey when he looks into himself and action movie that focuses on the men trying to survive in hostile surroundings. It fails in achieving both of those goals.

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.
There was a lot of talk concerning the ending to the movie which I felt was actually one of the better parts of it. It is quite powerful, thanks to a combination of things - the score, Neeson's work and nice little twist concerning the memory of his wife. But then something catastrophic happens, right after end credits. The movie follows moronic trend of including shots or scenes at the very end of the movie. Not only is that a lame device, it really doesn't add anything to the ending, which if was let alone would be pretty much perfect.

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.

30 comments:

  1. Nooooooooo... Sati!! Cmon!!

    This movie was really, really good. I thought it spoke volumes about how far people would be willing to go to survive, and was a fantastic look at characters facing their own mortality head on.

    There were a couple of moments where the suspension of disbelief needed to kick in, sure. But overall, this is one of my favorite of the year so far. Potentially a top ten candidate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really didn't like it. I couldn't care less about all of those people. The whole facing their morality thing would probably not happen had they actually made the right choices, they all seemed like a bunch without the brain blindly following Ottway who appeared to be the only one trying to come up with ideas to try and survive.

      Delete
    2. If attacking the wolf with fists is all you have available then it's better than laying over and getting killed by it - maybe it might scare the wolf off? Have you been in that life threatening situation without a weapon? Maybe that was the point - they didn't know how to react?
      Agreed they were a bunch of dumb sheep except for Ottway but that's probably not far from the demographic in that line of work.
      I dunno, i really think it works as a survival horror although not exactly a pleasurable watch.

      Delete
    3. Well I got all of that but it came off very silly and thinly written for me. I can certainly see why people would enjoy/like/appreciate the film but it really wasn't my cup of tea.

      Delete
  2. Great review Sati. Neeson is out-standing here and gives probably one of his best performances that we have seen from him in a very long time. The rest of the film also works because there’s not only this certain paranoia going on but even when the “action” comes, it’s tense, brutal, and surprising.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I thought Neeson was good but the quality of the movie brought his work down.

      Delete
  3. It's cool to hear a different perspective on this - I've mostly been reading positive reviews. I've missed it in cinemas already, so I may borrow the DVD. Maybe. Perhaps.
    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah I read all the positive reviews and was hoping for something good, but it was utterly forgettable.

      Delete
  4. This movie is quite polarizing, seems like every day someone would be telling me about this movie w/ varied response. I'm not that interested in it, to be honest and your review confirmed my dread.


    Btw, totally agree w/ your first paragraph. I think bad movies actually could be entertaining but mediocre ones, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I only saw it because so many people said it was really great, otherwise I'd skip it. Unfortunetly it was not great :(

      Exactly, bad ones at least can make you laugh with how bad and stupid they are.

      Delete
  5. Loved your review! Though this clearly wasn't your intention ...I now have to see this.

    Lots of Boos, for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you will like it better than I did, I'm sure either way your review will be insanely entertaining.

      Delete
  6. Personally i loved the movie, but i guess it didn't work for you. But with that said, when i found out there was a after credit scene i was rather annoyed. For something like the Marvel movies that worked fine because you pretty much knew it was coming. But here i had no clue about it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly this trend started migrating to other genres than comic book adaptations, it's absolute madness.

      Delete
  7. See I am totally with oyu on this one. Loads of my friends loved this film but I found it a little tame and boring, and the ending did my head in!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you agree. It was so boring I nearly fast forwarded through it.

      Delete
  8. And here I thought this one might not be half bad. By your rating it's half bad, and then some!

    Still, Liam Neeson is maintaining his standing as a bad ass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, as boring as the film was Neeson was good, he is really a very dedicated actor and he always delivers.

      Delete
  9. Interesting! I liked it more than you did. I suppose it is mediocre but also this is a film to me that is far better than it should be. It's really stayed with me too. Particularly that little poem. And I loved the ending. But yeah the characters were dumb and some of it was dreadfully predictable so I can understand your response.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The poem was great, but a bit too short to really stay with me, the dumb characters would be fine, but it was just so lifeless.

      Delete
  10. "Fifty shades of mediocrity" - that was a good line! It made me smile. Nice review, this just confirmed my view that I really don't think I can be bothered to sit through The Grey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, when I hear word "Grey" nowadays it just reminds me of that novel, though I didn't read it apart from some funny excerpts.

      Delete
  11. I agree with the concept that sometimes it's better to see a bad movie than a mediocre one. Sometimes I'm more upset after seeing something totally average than something bad.

    I might be watching this film someday, but I have a problem with snowy films. I don't know why but they make me feel dull even before I start watching them. And if you say that it's silly, then it's probably is, so...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, I really dislike mediocre movies. I don't feel as there is enough passion in me to even bother reviewing them.

      Huh I guess there is something to it. For me it's the submarine movies. I don't know why but when I see the inside of one I'm like "zzz".

      Delete
  12. This was not the film I thought it was going to be, when I started watching it. I was expecting a lot more action and less cry babies out in the woods. I like my Neeson to be a bit more angry and filled with rage than in this film. Spot on about those wolves, that teddy bear Ted looked more realistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plus they kept whining about all the wrong things. If there is a guy with the ideas, go with him and stop bitching that you don't like his ideas. The wolves were just horribly fake.

      Delete
  13. I couldn't agree more with everything you said. Other than mine, I think your review is the only other moderately negative review of this movie that I've seen. Just didn't do it for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was quite shocked about the positive reviews after seeing it. It was really tedious and forgettable.

      Delete
  14. Totally agree Sati. I wasn't a fan of this movie myself. The movie could easily have done without the stupid wolves if it wanted to be more of a philosophical piece. Or it could have done without the superficial "search for meaning" BS altogether and focused on the action. But not halfway of both.

    The wolves behavior was totally unrealistic and ridiculous plot sticking points like (the wolves will attack anything within 30 miles of their den) made it nearly unbearable.

    Terrible flick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, they should have just picked the genre and either do some heavy drama shit with the men stranded in the middle of nowhere or straight action flick with the fights, gore and all of that.

      Delete