Saturday, May 28, 2022

#2,760. The Grey (2011) - Winter Horror 4-Pack


Director Joe Carnahan’s The Grey is an intense, disturbing, nail-biting tale of survival in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.

No, check that… it’s several survival stories wrapped into one, with each new twist, each new danger as thrilling as the last.

John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works as a marksman for an Alaskan-based oil company, utilizing his skills as a hunter and sharpshooter to ensure that no wolves attack the drillers in the field.

When a plane carrying him and other oil workers crashes in the snowy wilderness, Ottway gathers up the survivors - including Diaz (Frank Grillo), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), Flannery (Joe Anderson), Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), and Burke (Nonso Anozie) - and convinces them to build a fire before they all freeze to death.

Believing that no help is coming for them, Ottway tells the group they have to make their way south. But the trek won’t be an easy one; along with the ice and cold, the survivors are being stalked by a ferocious pack of wolves, which seems intent on picking them off one at a time!

The Grey is a movie that rarely stops to take a breath, challenging viewers to keep up as its characters face one deadly threat after another, never quite sure what new peril is waiting around the bend. The plane crash, which is as nerve-racking as they come, sets the stage perfectly, with very few surviving this initial ordeal (there’s a particularly moving scene in which Ottway explains to a badly-injured colleague, played by James Badge Dale, that he is going to die, then stays with the man, comforting him in his final moments). The harsh conditions come into play as well, with blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and not a hint of civilization on the horizon.

The real threat, however, are the wolves, which are attacking the survivors not for food, but to protect their territory. At times the wolf attacks are both sudden and fierce, yet the scenes in which the creatures are out of sight, howling in the distance, are just as terrifying. Even when we don’t see them, we know these wolves are there, and the survivors cannot let their guard down for a second.

Neeson is superb as Ottway, the only man strong enough to lead these workers to safety while at the same time dealing with a heartbreak of his own (in early scenes, Ottway is penning a letter to his lost love, played in flashbacks by Anne Openshaw), and Mulroney, Grillo, and the others are solid in support, with director Carnahan infusing each and every character with a distinct personality (Mulroney’s Talget relates a sweet story about his young daughter, who he hopes to see again one day).

Yet it’s the battle between man and wolf that makes The Grey an unforgettable motion picture, and I am forever changed by the experience of watching it. Much like that early scene in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant made me fear bears, The Grey now has me scared shitless of wolves!
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: