The Grey – Nesson goes howling mad

Ah, Liam Neeson. The trusty Irish powerhouse is always a safe bet, and even in weaker films like The Phantom Menace, Clash of the Titans and Unknown, he still comes out as the star performer and a major redeeming quality of the movie.

His starring vehicles include the vastly underrated A-Team, as well as the excellent Michael Collins, superior thriller Taken and Kinsey, which saw him showered with well-deserved awards and nominations.

As for his smaller parts in films like Batman Begins and Gangs of New York, he serves to add some extra quality which heightens the overall excellence of the finished product.

In survival-thriller The Grey, Neeson plays John Ottway, a man hired by an oil firm to eliminate the threat of wolves to their drilling team in Alaska. We are introduced to him as he considers suicide, writing in quite poetic fashion to his wife to inform her of his general state of mind. He comes pretty close to blowing his head off, but in a nick of time he is needed to do his wolf-culling thing.

Once work is completed, Ottway and the drilling team hop on a flight, but the plane decides to take a short detour downwards, and crashes horribly leaving a handful of survivors.

As if a lack of food or drink, no real shelter, unlikely rescue, several corpses and a relentless blizzard weren’t enough to create a truly grim and challenging situation, a pack of savage wolves decide they don’t like their new neighbours, and begin picking off survivors at will.

Of course, Neeson’s Ottway, the man originally so close to suicide, takes it upon himself to try and guide the men through their predicament, making good use of his extensive wolf knowledge to try and fend off their would-be killers.

Neeson is excellent, embodying the struggle that is buried within a natural survivor who has considered taking his own life. His unflinching morals, impressive instincts and sheer will to fight make for a fascinating character, and help The Grey to become a triumph beyond other similarly-themed survival movies which fail to offer anything genuinely involving.

The clever combination of vast open space with the claustrophobic, enclosed atmosphere between the men is another aspect of The Grey which works well. Their surrounding landscape is so huge, but they can see so little due to the brutal weather, and whilst the men would otherwise be able to just leave the wolves’ territory, they don’t have a lot of options regarding where to go, and one survivor starts to get a little twitchy.

It is taut and tense, and very well shot, aided greatly by the foundation that is Neeson’s stellar performance.

Perhaps the other survivors lack a little in characterisation, as a few seem somewhat interchangeable, but it really is about Ottway and his ability to drive others forward and endure relentless adversity.

The ending is also slightly lacking, simply because it seems lazy, but overall director Joe Carnahan has come up with another impressive collaboration with Neeson and producer Ridley Scott, after their admirable and enjoyable movie version of The A-Team.

The Grey is great; watch it, if only to remind yourself why Liam Neeson should be in everything.

DVDRental Rating: 8.5/10

One Response to “The Grey – Nesson goes howling mad”

  1. simon livermore says:

    neeson should stick to taken films as this was a snooze fest!

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