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Nordling Says THE GREY Is The First Great Movie Of 2012!

Nordling here.

Yeah, yeah.  It's easy to say in January about the first great movie of 2012, but there it is.  If January is any indication of what kind of movie year we're going to have, I think 2012 may go down as being exceptional in the quality of films we'll get this year, and the fact that it will be a full, consistent year, instead of spots of good movie releases, makes me happy.  We got HAYWIRE, Steven Soderbergh's foray into action filmmaking, and it's really good.  And then we get Joe Carnahan's THE GREY, which on its surface seems to be a man-against-nature movie, but is so deeply resonant, and full of great characters and acting, and a towering performance by Liam Neeson, who gives us something as iconic as Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery.  No, I'm not being hyperbolic.  This, along with Oskar Schindler, may just be the role he's most remembered for.

I may have to dive into a bit of spoiler territory in writing this review.  See, the trailers are doing a bit of disservice when showing some of the moments of the movie.  Sure, THE GREY is absolutely an adventure film, and Liam Neeson going glass-knuckled against a pack of wolves is in there - but without the context of the scene it's practically meaningless.  In the trailer, it just looks like a moment of Neeson badassery.  But as it plays out in the film, it's so much more significant in what it represents.  And yet, I'm certain that audience members may feel cheated when they finally do come across that scene, but emotionally, it's a moment of pure triumph and a raging against the dying of the light.  Or, as Ottway's (Neeson) father so eloquently puts it in a poem that he wrote in Ottway's youth:

Once more into the fray

Into the last good fight I'll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day

Ottway is a haunted man - haunted by his past and full of regret.  Much of the narration of the film is through Ottway's letter to his wife, and he is a man that seeks solitude.  You get the idea that something terrible has happened in Ottway recently, and now he is past trying to make amends for it.  Ottway spends his days as a sharpshooter for the oil companies that are drilling in the area; keeping the wolves at bay while the men work.  Ottway and the other men board a flight to Anchorage for some rest and relaxation, but fate plays its hand, and in one of the film's more intense sequences, the plane crashes violently.

The other survivors - Diaz (Frank Grillo), the resident tough guy; Heinrick (Dallas Roberts), a man of faith; Talget (Dermot Mulroney) who misses his daughter and is desperate to get back to her; and Burke (Nonso Alozie) who catches ill and tries to endure the bitter cold - team together to try to make it to some kind of civilization.  But all around them, they hear the howls and see the movement.  They have wandered into the wolves' territory, and they are not welcome.  The wolves, done with CGI as well as modelwork, are truly terrifying, and Carnahan plays the tension and unease like a conductor doing a symphony.  You never know what will happen next, and there are moments of pure fright in THE GREY that will make many audience members jump.  THE GREY delivers on its thrills.  Ottway must lead this ragtag group of men into safety, even as he must overcome his own personal demons to do so.

But it's the deeper emotional truths of THE GREY that boost the film into something more than a routine man-vs.-nature movie.  THE GREY is about something - it's about man's willingness to live despite the odds, it's about how a person can relate to a God that is seemingly absent, and the struggle to make sense of it all when everything you've seen and felt simply doesn't.  Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers' script (based on Jeffers' short story "Ghost Walker") goes much more in depth into the characters and their feelings than is normal in a movie like this, and that gives it a power that makes THE GREY a more fulfilling experience.  All the characters feel genuine and real, and not simple caricatures.  So when death strikes, you feel it.  There is one scene in particular, as Ottway tries to talk a man through his own death, that is shocking and powerful and true.  Seeing that scene, and a few others in the film, it's hard not to reflect on Neeson's own recent losses in his life, and watching him channel that emotion into his performance is at times difficult to watch.

THE GREY is Joe Carnahan's best film, flat out.  His work here is terrific - not only does he get great performances from his actors, but the sheer difficulty of the shoot comes through in the film.  The weather you see in THE GREY is real, and you can feel that wind cut through you as you see it.  It would be awesome if theaters played THE GREY with the air conditioner going full blast, just to get a taste of it.  The wolves, a mixture of CGI and puppetry, are scary and well done - they make logical sense in the film, even if your preconceived notions of how wolves behave conflict with the movie.  The wolves can be taken as metaphor or as reality - it's all in how you want to perceive it.  Regardless, they work.  

And then there is Liam Neeson, who is tremendous here.  There is so much raw power and emotion in his work that sometimes you want to look away, especially in a scene where he rages against God for everything that's happened.  You can imagine that he thought similar thoughts as the tragic events of his recent loss happened to him.  But he puts it all in his performance, and the result is something iconic and one that I feel that he'll be remembered for.  I'm not kidding when I compare Neeson's work here to Eastwood or Connery - he delivers at exactly that level and I'm so happy that he's become, in his later years, a surrogate for those icons.

I hope people embrace the film for what it is and not for what they expected in the trailers.  THE GREY is very much a poem, a character study, and in its quiet moments finds true grace.  It's also a riveting adventure, a scary thriller, and a powerful drama.  It is a terrific film, and I have the feeling that when we look back on it later in the year it will only grow in stature and importance.  Ernest Hemingway would have approved of THE GREY.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 26, 2012, 9:27 p.m. CST

    i can't wait to see this tomorrow

    by antonphd

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 9:28 p.m. CST

    liam neeson 10 wolves 0

    by HornyForHarry

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 9:41 p.m. CST




  • hired to protect Arctic drill would be to guard against Polar bears, NOT wolves.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10 p.m. CST

    As long as wolves get punched...

    by MattDomville

    ...count me in. A comic on the subject:

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:01 p.m. CST

    Too close to home

    by jamestewart007

    I live in Yellowknife NWT, where we had 3 planes crash over this past summer. Seeing the trailer to this film struck really close to home for me as flying in and out of mining camps is a big part of the industry here. The community is very close knit, and practically everyone knew someone who died in each crash. I'm very glad to hear that this isn't just some adventure movie, but deals with mature issues in a serious way.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:10 p.m. CST

    oh really cause Harry thought it was a movie of 2011


    because he got to see it early.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:16 p.m. CST

    Oh please...

    by TopHat

    Yes, Neeson lost his wife, Natasha Richardson, to a ski accident in 2009, but this movie is no meditation on life imitating art imitating mourning; His character's grief is there for the same reason it is in a vintage Mel Gibson action flick: to establish our antihero's state of desperate cunning. THE GREY is just another mashup of monster movie, psycho-drama, and mawkish bromance. Here's the jest (spoilers): Neeson plays Ottway, a sharpshooting wolf exterminator for a drilling operation somewhere above the Arctic Circle. In voiceover, he tells us that the remote outpost attracts "outcasts, rejects, convicts, assholes - men unfit for mankind". Strap in for a subzero DIRTY DOZEN! Their plane crashes and these hard-luck bastards have to make it back to their outpost through a pack of pissed off wolves (because wolves, we're advised, are the only animals "that will seek revenge" ...I shit you not). From here the action takes a turn for the preposterous. We're not just talking standard moviemaking concessions like hoods down and coats blowing open in minus-50-degree gale. We're talking hand-to-hand combat with animatronic wolves that behave less like canines than like frenzied barracuda. We're talking uncalled-for stunts like a running leap off a cliff when a simple rappel would suffice. This sort of thing - demonized wildlife, VERTICAL LIMIT-style acrobatics - can be entertaining, of course, as long as no one takes himself too seriously. Yet, Carnahan is determined to prove he's deep, and he's anxious that you not miss any of that depth. He has one guy actually scream to the wolves "You're not the animals, WE'RE the animals!" This same dude, as he dies, is revealed to have NO MAS tattooed on his neck. No, really. And his demise follows an exchange in which the men, tearing up, share their first names for the first time - a scene, you think, that must have been workshopped at America's last Iron John retreat. Yeah, the cinematography is stellar. But, it actually works AGAINST the movie because it hints at a version that could have been a fraction as violent and twice as frightening. And Neeson's performance is very good as well, if only for the fact that he's actually convincing as he recites, for the third or fourth time, a poem attributed to Ottway's dad, the one Nordling posted up there - an eighth-grader's parody of Shakespeare's Henry V.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:21 p.m. CST


    by cranborne

    Don't forget Liam has already got a place in the heart of every Action Film fan, if only for his telephone chat with the bad gut...I will ind you - and I WILL kill you!

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:28 p.m. CST

    The scene after the credits - important?

    by Flippadippa

    Several reports of one, wondering if it's worth sticking around for

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:47 p.m. CST

    THE GREY is Joe Carnahan's best film, flat out.


    Better than what, Smokin Aces and The A Team? Does Anthony Hopkins get the bear in the end?

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Are Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin also on the plane?

    by 77AD

  • Friday is almost heeeeeeere!!!!!!! BRING IT!!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the review Tophat!!!

    by notcher

    Makes me wanna see it even more!!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 10:59 p.m. CST

    I do have to give Carnahan props for 'Narc'. I did like that a lot.


    Has anyone out there seen Haywire? Is it worth seeing in the theater?

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Thanks, deaftOne.


    I'm not sure if that's a recommendation or not, but I'll probably check it out. Action movies have just become really boring and uninteresting lately.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:40 p.m. CST

    I'm watching "Zodiac" right now.

    by notcher

    It's fucking awesome!!!! Fincher is a great filmmaker, PERIOD!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:45 p.m. CST

    That's the vibe I got from seeing the trailer a while ago in the theater.


    Fight scenes/choreography that make sense and are shot coherently and patiently. Soderbergh knows what the fuck he's doing, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. That's what I was hoping to hear. It is kind of ironic that the Bourne films are some of my favorite recent action films, considering the action is shot in pretty much the opposite way.

  • Jan. 26, 2012, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Notcher, if you're watching 'Zodiac' on IFC....


    Most likely you are watching a commercial right now. IFC has to be the most maddening station, They show some great movies, but I don't get them in HD and they show commercials like every 5 minutes of film.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:27 a.m. CST

    Sailor Ripley...

    by notcher

    Yup, I remember not too long ago when IFC didn't have commercials. Well, not only do they have them now, but as you said, they have them every 5 minutes. But hey, got nothing better to do at 1:27 in the morning.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:31 a.m. CST

    I used to watch IFC all the time when the movies were uninterrupted.


    It can be trying, but I still watch it sometimes. A great movie with commercial breaks is still better than a shitty movie with none.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:35 a.m. CST

    Touche Sailor, only 10 minutes left in the film....

    by notcher

    but 30 minutes left to show it. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 1:48 a.m. CST


    by Senor Bastardo

    I’ve seen this movie a few days ago at an advance screening. I’ve found it a load of schizophrenic crap. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a terrible movie but the director seems to have been unable to make up his mind about what kind of movie he wanted to make.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 2:06 a.m. CST

    Ain't It Paid For Reviews

    by Wookie_Weed

    Fucking hell, anyone who buys Nordling's "review" is full of shit. He's been on Carnahan's payroll since day one.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 2:08 a.m. CST

    Have an AMC giftcard rearing to go for this

    by MJDeViant

    Best feeling in the world when you can see a free movie that you aren't sure about (which is surprisingly a lot films). For some reason I am feeling this will be like when I saw Four Brothers. Had no idea what to expect quality-wise and it turned out okay and I enjoyed it enough. Was also free.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 2:38 a.m. CST


    by max

    Better than Narc i think not.

  • Ya know what? If you're going to film something in Canada, BASE THE STORY IN CANADA! Trading off the mystique and mystery of my home, without sending a single penny our way in compensation, is horse shit. Want to see a movie based on events in Alaska that was actually filmed IN Alaska? Go see Big Miracle. Yes, I know it's going to be stupid as all hell, but the studio was nice enough to actually bring some money our way, and the extras and even a few small parts are played by honest to god Alaskans.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 3:47 a.m. CST

    DON'T Believe the hype!!!! Overrated is putting it mildly!!!!!

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    Seriously, what movie did these people see? Because the one I saw was passable, but nothing more. Iconic performance that Neeson will be remembered for? Not a chance. This will be one of his more forgettable ones of his whole career. The movie is monotonous, predictable, and often boring. I dont need all out action, so thats not it. It was just... repetitive. I beg all of you to ignore the hype. If you go in with LOW expectations, you may enjoy it. But I went in believing it would be a great film, and it disappointed on all levels.

  • seriously. just... ends. He straps them on, recites that lame-ass poem in his head, and it goes black. You dont even see the shot of him running at the wolf that is in the trailer. oh, spoiler alert, by the way.

  • I mean most movies about Los Angeles or get filmed in like Toronto or Vancouver. get over it.

  • I think CG is the single-worst development in film history. We've become far too over reliant on it - it ALWAYS draws attention to itself and drags you out of most films that it's used in. Why can't we get back to physical/practical in camera stage craft? A: because the Genie is out of the bottle - and it aint going back.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:04 a.m. CST

    Carnahan's Movies: Best-to-Worst

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    Smokin' Aces The A-Team Narc The Grey

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:07 a.m. CST

    A sharpshooter keeping the wolves at bay while the oil men work?

    by buggerbugger

    The wolves are trying to steal the oil? The fucking bounders! Shoot the lot of them, that's what I say!

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:13 a.m. CST

    re: "an all-too-obvious CGI wolf."

    by buggerbugger

    Yeah, what's up with that? To the people who have seen this movie: Do all the wolves look like that? Are they meant to be regular wolves that have the misfortune of being created via ropey effects, or are they supposed to be some kind of unearthly, supernatural forces of nature and therefore aren't meant to look real? Or maybe that clip is from a nightmare scene that one of the characters is having, then they wake up and fight some real-looking wolves?

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:52 a.m. CST


    by Extr3m1st

    Nice job scumbag, I hope your whole family is run down by a bus

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:09 a.m. CST

    ill pass on this and re watch Dog Soldiers instead

    by Stalkeye

    They Grey sounds like some Low Concept thriller as the premise doesn't gather my interest.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:36 a.m. CST

    shiftyeyedog, fuck you very much!

    by MariusXe

    Really. Fuck you.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 6:15 a.m. CST


    by MrLongbaugh

    I hope a pack of wolves eat your legs down to the bone.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:24 a.m. CST

    shiftyeyedog, asshole!

    by ballymoremonty

    Fuck you shiftyeyedog, trolling asshole.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Wait - CGI WOLVES? SERIOUSLY? Okay, not seeing it now. Ew!

    by dasheight

  • There's a red box around this article on the main page that says SPOILER. If you didnt want spoilers you shouldnt have come here and started reading.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:46 a.m. CST

    It was Burke

    by phifty2

    Who put the wolf cub in Liam's sleeping bag.

  • this sounds retarded.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 8:23 a.m. CST

    He would say that though, wouldn't he.....

    by cameron

    There are many reviews of this movie that are 'neutral' and unbiased. Most rate it around 3/5, a good movie when it's moving along but dull because large chucks of dire dialogue around camp fires seem to go on forever.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 8:28 a.m. CST

    I wish cancer upon Shiftyeyedogs most loved ones...

    by MangoPositive

    Seriously... I hope they die this year and you cry. I already saw the movie too! If you read that, it shouldn't ruin the movie for you. You'll be thinking of other things when it happens, though the surprise of it was a bit of a shock. I went in expecting to see another "The Edge". What I got was an incredibly powerful film that is both artsy and thrilling. I haven't been this emotionally struck by a film in a very long time. I can't even comprehend that some here who've seen it had a negative experience.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 8:47 a.m. CST

    It's not even negative, just baffled by the raves

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    It's not a BAD movie, it just isn't THAT good. It's a good fit for January. Decent distraction, but quickly forgettable.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:09 a.m. CST

    shiftyeyeddog, so you're saying it ends exactly like ROCKY 3?

    by FlickaPoo

    *boy, you really move good for an older wolf...* [DING!]

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:39 a.m. CST

    The end is given away in the trailers

    by Bag_of_Hammers

    It's been mentioned above and it's absolutely true, he tapes the bottles to hands, breaks them, says something to the effect of "LEROY JENNNNNKINS!!!" and charges at the camera, then black. That's it.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:40 a.m. CST

    actually, bag of hammers, he doesnt even charge

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    it goes black on a close up of his face before he does. the charging shot is gone. love the Leroy Jenkins reference, though!

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST

    You DO know there's a short scene after the credits, right?

    by DrumsInTheDeep

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:42 a.m. CST


    by Bag_of_Hammers

    do tell.......

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Well, since we're talking SPOILERS

    by DrumsInTheDeep

    > > It shows Neeson lying on the ground, breathing heavily. The wolf is dead.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Explain how you get "thrown clear" of a plane crash.

    by cookylamoo

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:16 p.m. CST

    Bravo to the cunt sacks ruining the ending

    by Brody77

    Seriously, go fuck yourselves.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:32 p.m. CST

    If the movie truly ends like that-

    by sonnyfern

    -then a ton of people are going to be royally PISSED off. I know a dozen people who are going to go for THAT scene alone.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:36 p.m. CST

    You got a problem with BC, cash907?

    by GreatWhiteNoise

    You probably live in Detroit.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Missing Pirates and/or an eyepatch

    by Billy

  • That said, the descriptions of the movie do suggest a rather absurd take on wolf behavior. Doesnt mean it isnt a fun movie, but methinks a bear (Grizzly or Polar, depending on the location) wouldve been a more plausible antagonist. Animals, of course, can be unpredictable, and it is just a movie, so no point in nitpicking i guess.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Just seen it today....

    by yamayama

    and i have to say the writing has depth. How the heck Carnahan got some of those camera shots in the snow storm i will never know. The sheer brutality of the wilderness made me want to retreat beneath a duvet cover. I liked how the story didnt shirk away from the absolute cruelty and ruthlessness of the wild, and the wolves. The wolves.... jesus the wolves. The metaphor of the wolves in the story was deep. I loved the ending too. Very ambiguous ending, but in another sense made perfect sense with him reciting his late fathers poetry too. I think Neeson has found a director in Joe Carnahan who brings out a very deep and raw performance in him. Hope they do more stuff together.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Bad form to reveal so much!! Bad revIew!!

    by Marc


  • Jan. 27, 2012, 1:56 p.m. CST

    After the credits?

    by Flippadippa

    Was the scene worth sticking around for or what?

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Really, I gotta say, Shittyeyed... I mean, Shiftyeyeddog...

    by captaincosmos

    Spoiler warnings at the top or not -- you are a total fucking cunt for that spoiler in the talkbacks. Many of us skip over the details in the middle of these reviews in order to avoid the spoilers we've been warned of, but like to get the overall thoughts from the reviewer that are most often contained in the very broad, general opening and closing statements of the review. Easy to do. And if you've seen the movie and want to say something specific about it in the talkback, fine... say what you want, but LEAVE THE FUCKING DETAILS IN THE COMMENT SECTION, NOT THE GODAMN SUBJECT LINE WHERE IT CAN'T BE AVOIDED. YOU. FUCKING. LITTLE. ASSHOLE.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 3:16 p.m. CST


    by buggerbugger

    I see humour is lost on you. As are most things, presumably. Note to the fucking terminally retarded: I do not condone the shooting of wolves, you fucking drooling, illiterate muppet.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 3:27 p.m. CST

    fine movie, but you spoiler assholes

    by Hipshot

    Ruined the end for me. What the fuck is wrong with you?

  • what a waste of my afternoon

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:23 p.m. CST


    by Chris Moody

    Is it anything like it?

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:36 p.m. CST

    There were real wolves in that movie

    by Hipshot

    They were NOT all CGI, guys. Look at the credits: "wolf trainer" and "wolf handler" were both listed. Which means that you cannot tell the difference between FX and real wolves. That is hysterical--the effects really have gotten that good, but your prejudices blind you to the truth.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:43 p.m. CST

    This must seem like a really great premise...

    by NeonFrisbee

    if you're FUCKING RETARDED.

  • Just came back, and found the film good, but too pretentious at times and had at least one "bullshit" moment for me. But the biggest problem is that the trailers and commercials not only sell this film as something that it is not, but it sets up something that never actually happens in the movie. There are many people who will walk away from this film with blue balls, because they didn't get what the marketing department promised. THat's not the fault of the film or filmmakers, but I guarantee they will get the bulk of the blame from the customers.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:32 p.m. CST

    About the wolves...

    by MrD

    I said the film could be pretentious, and it is that way with the wolves. The wolves are not natural animals in this film. They are a symbol of death, their look, they deep resonannce of their howls and growls, they just ain't supposed to be all natural. As such the weird phoniness (which is pretty consistent, so even the real wolves look off) kinda worked for me.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:25 p.m. CST

    I love BC...but...

    by Flippadippa

    ...I hate to think of the day when the first oil tanker from China crashes on the Queen Charlotte Islands.:(

  • I, for one, say thanks. You saved me $15. Wolf-punching is the main thing that hooked me on seeing it to begin with.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:40 p.m. CST

    Also: This reminds me of The Phantom Menace 3D ad campaign

    by Joe Jones

    All posters, all commercials: Darth Maul everywhere. Reality? The opposite. Jar Jar Binks, the kid, and poo-doo "jokes" are onscreen 20 times as much as Maul. Maul is there for maybe 5-8 full minutes of screentime out of 2+ hours.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 9:14 p.m. CST

    just got out....hooollllllyyy shiiiiiiiittttttt

    by jsfithaca

    nordlings review described it perfectly. just fucking amazing. and the ending is great and better watching it then having it described by that trolling asshole shittyeyedog or whatever the fuck his name is. also is there actually an aftercredits scene? cuz i didnt stick around

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:16 p.m. CST

    dioxholster - no, it's not.

    by ShiftyEyedDog

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:17 p.m. CST

    @no_more_comic_movies - that is my main goal here

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    I'm not just some asshole, I'm trying to lower expectations and save people giant disappointment by telling them how the trailers for this were BS.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 11:16 p.m. CST

    saw it. amazing film.

    by Logan_1973

    Should have been released in Dec.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 11:55 p.m. CST

    Hemingway meets Jean-Paul Sartre (spoilers!)

    by BeMoreFunny

    This movie is one of the best studies of death I've ever seen in any art form. It seems difficult for a film to say anything profound about death because it's such a familiar topic, and most films about death (i.e. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) get very maudlin and sappy. Not this film. This is about as honest a look as you can get at how human beings can face mortality. It poses genuinely disturbing questions, such as (spoiler) when one of the last three survivors just realizes it would be better to die, and sits down next to the river with a smile on his face, waiting to freeze, starve, or be mauled by wolves. This leaves just two survivors, Ottway (Neeson) and Henrik, who is a religious, decent family man, who was in many ways the warmest and most human of the group. He soon dies a senseless, maddening death, where his head is a few inches beneath the river and he can't go up for air because his foot is stuck. Ottway tries everything to get him out but he can't make him budge and he dies right there in his arms. This leads to the end of the film, where Neeson slumps onto the bank of the river and faces the meaningless of human existence head on. "Fuck faith!" he yells at the sky, pleading with God to show some sign that life has meaning. He says that God has to earn faith by doing something, he feels God owes it to him after the endless tragedy he's endured. Of course there's no sign from God, and Ottway shortly ends up right in the wolves' den, surrounded by them. He chooses to duct tape shards of glass to his fists, and meet his fate head on. It's a beautifully triumphant ending, showing how the human spirit should engage in whatever absurd, horrifying activity that presents itself. If they had shown the fight, it would have completely ruined the power of that final choice and moment. It's a genuinely profound work of art. Everyone should see it.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 1:28 a.m. CST


    by SpaghettiWall

    Don't see it.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 4 a.m. CST


    by macheesmo3

    saw this today, and I was completely taken aback' by how poetic the film is. It's not Taken, it's no vehicle for him to fuck shit up. It's a bloody good drama that happens to have a few action scenes in it. I think it was dumped by pussy execs into Jan. when it shouldve been a Dec. film. Yes, it's that good. Ignore any hipster jackoffs that tell you different.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 4:08 a.m. CST

    it's a lame ass film that tricks you

    by SpaghettiWall

    if you don't want to see an action film, fine go see it, even though it was always advertised as one and the film is a fucking trick

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 4:09 a.m. CST

    I think it works much better for those who are informed on...

    by GQTaste26

    ...the lead actors personal life. With what he's had to endure in real life mirrors w/ the character faces. That really makes the pay off much sweeter for those in the know I think. It reminds of of Sawshank Redemption in that regard. Get busy living? Goddamn right.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 7:40 a.m. CST

    @c3po you are so obviously right it's saddening.

    by Franck

    Without trying to be the caricature of the dictatorial asshole animal lover, and having not seen the movie, I am surprised that the wolves portrayal issue hasn't more readers concerned. They are great animals, and seem in their territory. I hope the movie doesn't portray them as the big bad ass blood thirsty beasts and shows their natural instincts for protection and retaliation against invading humans..

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 8:35 a.m. CST

    I think its a bit of a litmus test

    by Hipshot

    Those railing about it not being a balls-out action movie are perfectly welcome to do so, of course. That's not "the Grey" and I never expected it to be. Enjoyed it very much. My wife is losing her mother right now, and she was sobbing during some of the sequences, but walked out of the movie feeling more centered and aware than when she walked in. a film. "The Grey" is a solid piece of work.

  • It's not about living or dying. It's about taking the responsibility to fight for either. The film is a masterpeice. Also one of the top three plane crash sequences I've ever seen. It's so visceral and ugly, like many of the wolf encounters. You'll never want to fly again.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 8:06 p.m. CST

    Big disappointment

    by thot

    The trailers and TV spots really sold this as a Liam Neeson action film. Not. That being the case, it still could have been a solid film-going experience. It wasn't. I found it to be depressing and pointless. Unless you find nihilism "inspiring" in some way. Never seen such a stunned and annoyed audience reaction and the end.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 8:10 p.m. CST

    Good solid film that poses some deep questions (spoilers)

    by coosawatchie

    If you're the sort of person who can't get beyond what you think the wolves look like then I feel sorry for you. You're the same pitiful asshole who can't have a good time at Disney World because you worry about a burnt out light bulb or a wayward hot dog wrapper on the sidewalk. The Grey uses the wolves as a metaphor for death. The main characters ponder life, and death, and faith. The great part is that there is a lot of solid action and frights sprinkled along the way. If you're in it for Neeson duking it out with the alpha wolf then save your money, because that's not the point. Having said that, I didn't stay for any scene after the credits and am glad I didn't it because the story needed to end just as it did.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 8:40 p.m. CST

    Never seen such a bad movie that was so well acted.

    by Yamato

    Seriously, I want my 2 hours back. This movie was very bad. The wolves in it were a joke, they were closer to aliens than wolves. I hate wolves (I've had the misfortune to run across them in the wild) and I fear them, but I found these wolves laughably over the top. Not afraid of fire, not in any way afraid of people, puhleese!

  • It's fine that it's more drama than genre film. They cheat us on something else. I won't spoil it, but I wish I had asked for my money back.

  • Feb. 7, 2012, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Pretty bad

    by Soxfan893

    I actually just got out of this film and Neeson was the only thing that kept it going at all. The concept was great, and I like what they were going for, but the execution was very lacking. Spoilers The things that are getting panned on here are actually the only things I didn't dislike. The way it just cut out fits the movie very well. I for one didn't mind the CGI didn't really make much of a difference to me, and I usually hate too much CGI. The issue to me was the acting really. There are only two characters you really kind of care about...Neeson, and Joe Anderson who was in Across the Universe who dies early on. outside of those two characters, there are six other men or so that you are supposed to care about. The problem is that you don't. There are two death scenes right at the end of the movi that are supposed to be very gripping. You should be sad for these two, and you should feel the pain of their deaths as much as the men they have been surviving alongside do. Absolutely none of that comes through. The other thing that bugged me was the sheer disregard to the physical limitations of a human being. The whole point of the movie was to see how much human will can, or in some cases cannot, endure. And they go through some grim detail in showing you what is happening to them physically. There were two examples that really irked me. One was toward the end when one character falls from a tree and you clearly hear a sharp snap as he hits the ground. He's writhing in pain, complaining about his now injured knee. You then see him walking with barely a limp. Now that one I can forgive, but toward the beginning Neeson is attacked and bitten in the leg badly just above his knee. They zoom in with detail to show the arterial bleeding coming out in short spurts, and they quickly put a bandage around, as you should. They actually did a great job with this part, showing very good detail. The problem comes with the rest of the film. If that bandage is supposed to be a tourniquet as it should be, he can't do anything the rest of the film and he loses the leg in about 13 hours or so. Either way he has no feeling and can't walk let alone run. If it's just a ban dage, then he bleeds out in less than an hour and dies. Either way...he doesn't just keep acting normal for 4 days like they do here. The easy fix is just to show a good bite that's bleeding a little bit. There are other little things like when a pack of wolves is at their heels, they suddenly have the time to stop, gather wood and build a campfire to keep from being attacked. I understand it's a movie, but this one is supposed to be realistic. That's the very basis of it. You feel the human emotions because they're human, and they're in a real situation that could happen to you. This one loses you even when it never really had you to start with.

  • May 27, 2012, 5:41 p.m. CST

    Nordling, you missed the point...

    by 9000rpm

    The Grey isn't a 'survival' story, it a cautionary tale about a group of 'followers' who chose to throw in with an unstable and self-destructive leader. No expert except one hell bent on committing suicide would recommend leaving the site of a plane crash and trekking off into the woods. No sane person would recommend leaving the GPS-enabled watch behind. I don't think Ottway genuinely wanted to kill the others, but he certainly didn't care if they were killed as he charged ahead, knowing full well that the wolves would pick of the stragglers at the rear. Ottaway was on a mission - to die - not to survive, and he accomplished his agenda when he ended up in what he he described from the very beginning as the most dangerous place possible, the wolves lair. The real story here is why did everyone join his suicide march?