The Grey - Survival In The White Hell

                     "The memories of your life, whatever they might be, they make you want the next minute for more than the last. Makes you fight for it." says Liam Neeson, who was forsaken in a cruel wilderness in the movie 'The Grey' (2012). Films of hair-raising terror about people doing unspeakable things to each other are very easy to find nowadays. People can always outsmart people. But movies about helpless humans versus uncontrollable nature are rare.  

                                            The Grey is based on the  short story “Ghost Walker,”which  is a physically and philosophically grueling survival thriller that pits a small group of plane-crash-surviving oil workers against the stark, unrelenting brutality of the Alaskan wilderness.

    John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works for an Alaskan oil refinery. He can't stand the men he works with, many of whom are ex-cons; they strike him as dull, stupid, and violent. He includes himself in their number given the fact that he walked out on his beautiful wife long ago and has nothing left inside him except a sea of regrets. Ottway gets so depressed one night that he tries to commit suicide with his rifle but the howling of a wolf stops him from pulling the trigger. When the plane carrying him and other workers crashes in the frigid wilderness, only six others survive. 

                   Each hour that gets harder. Building fires and finding food is tough enough. Fighting off packs of white wolves is the real threat, as well as snowstorms, a miles-high narrow pass, which are hard to endure. These people are not exactly team players, and they don't take well to Ottway seizing a leadership position. However, it quickly becomes apparent that he is the only one of them with a working knowledge of wolves -- handy -- and their behavior.

       Director Joe Carnahan, who co-wrote the script with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers , pushes the limits of dramatic tension through his characters. The manner in which Carnahan first introduces the wolves—a sea of glowing eyes in the darkness just feet from the fire around which the men are huddled—is one of the movie's chilling moment.  
                  “Who do you love?” Neeson’s character asks a man who is breathing his last, like a priest and he is the perfect choice to play such a soulful rifleman. In addition to a sturdy crew of supporting actors, including good turns from Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts and Frank Grillo, there are also haunting snippets of Ottway’s lost love, memories of an emotionally distant father. These are the things  that save it from being simply a series of challenges.

                 There is some sparkle to the writing. When the men feast on roasted wolf, one of them says, “I’m more of a cat person.”And when Ottway reaches the end of his rope, he asks for help from God and then curses him for his absence. Carnahan keeps delivering beautifully crafted scenes.                                    
                  The middle of the movie sags a bit when the story turns into a routine chatter and quarrels. Movie-goers, who expect thrilling chases and gory killings will be disappointed. The "Grey" doesn't answer the harsh riddles about man vs nature, it sets up a wrestling ground for both these things. It may be too conventional for the art-house crowd, yet too arty for the multiplex movie-goers. 

                      But, in this vast expanse of hopelessness, The Grey is a rare mainstream action picture, exploratory in genre and of whatever lies beyond. It also avoids smug cliches, takes you to places you least expect and settles for no comfortable solutions, while it explores the dark shadows of the male psyche, than what you find in the usual phony macho myths from Hollywood.



vinay said...

Haven't watched it yet..
But I know together Carnahan-Neeson must have done the same magic, that they did in The A-Team(2010).

Arun Kumar said...

Do watch it vinay. It's better than A-Team.

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

Nice informative blog on movies..:-)

Akshy said...

Will definitely give this a shot:).

Vish said...

I saw this movie. This is awesome. How one man save him by his positiveness in spite of having lots of troubles, fear & loneliness. Huge group of wolves start hunting their group. Attacking on them with planning & eating one by one. Liam Neeson has done tremendous acting. Guys must watching movie....!!