The Grey

Director: Joe Carnahan (2011)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Find it: IMDB

So called because of Liam Neeson's increasingly grizzled post-Taken appearance. In The Grey, a plane full of manly men crashes in the middle of Alaska, leaving Ottway (Neeson) and his fellow survivors at the mercy of both this hostile environment and a pack of bloodthirsty wolves.

Re-united after their disappointing A-Team remake, Carnahan and Neeson are on more solid ground here, their existential survivalist thriller whipping along at a nice pace. Plenty of carnage and manly musing make up for the fact that the story is probably bollocks and also quite racist to wolves. Neeson should have taken a leaf out of his A-Teammate and not gotten on no plane (fool).

The plane crash is one of the best I've ever seen. The scenes in which Neeson struggles to make sense of the situation is very reminiscent of the first episode of LOST, except LOST wouldn't have lasted five minutes with Liam Neeson in it. There's an alternate version of LOST somewhere, where Liam Neeson punches The Smoke Monster in the face and brutally murders all of The Others in their very first appearance. Sawyer is a diminished presence in this version of LOST, as Neeson has him and his smart mouth making very good use of Locke's wheelchair. In fact, this alternate version of LOST is mostly Liam Neeson, Sayid, Mister Eko, Desmond and Lawnmower Man all chilling together in the hatch, listening to The Mamas and The Papas and reading literature (Neeson, of course, being Sayid's father-in-law now, as he was there to stop Ana Lucia from shooting Maggie Grace).

Ahem. Anyway, In The Grey, Neeson plays a deeply depressed Irishman who also happens to be an expert wolf hunter. This very particular set of skills (no doubt acquired over a long career) comes in useful when the wolves decide the humans aren't welcome on their land. Nonsense as they might mostly be, (animal lovers and wolf enthusiasts were less than happy at The Grey's depiction of wolves) the wolf attacks are thrilling and gory. It's like The Edge, except with evil wolves instead of an evil bear. The Edge is a slightly better film though, due to the fact that its bear is called Bart. Animal fans will be particularly unimpressed by a scene in which the survivors kill a wolf, eat it and then behead the creature, lobbing it back into the wilderness from whence it came.

There are people who aren't Liam Neeson in The Grey, although they're very thinly drawn and mostly uninteresting. Rather than imbue them with likeable personalities, the film goes down the easy route of having them talk about their loved ones a lot. The wolves barely need to be there though, since the humans do a perfectly fine job of killing themselves without any help from an outside party. Particularly cruel is a scene in which a man manages to drown in a shallow river. The death scenes are all memorable and shocking. The environment adds to the film's effectiveness - I felt chilly just watching The Grey.

The Grey is a well-made, gripping (if slightly portentous) survivalist thriller with Liam Neeson at his badass best. There are no Grey areas (unless you like wolves) - it's a great film.


  1. Top notch review, Joel. Loved it, especially Neeson's badassness and the grim atmosphere throughout the whole movie.

  2. Great review Joel. 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.