Yes, it’s true. Liam Neeson punches a wolf during the course of Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, but it should be noted that the scene is pretty dark — probably to obscure the fact that he’s really punching a stuffed wolf head being thrust at him by an unseen stagehand. That, by the way, is par for the lupine course in this long and rather dreary exercise in the cinema of man vs. nature in the wilds of the frozen north. Let it be recorded, however, that I am in the minority in finding this an unconvincing and singularly pointless slog of a movie and one with a crap non-ending to prove that it’s all important and artistic. The film is written in the manner of a WWII picture about a bomber crew, a nice ethnic mix of character types crammed together in a high-pressure situation. In this case, it’s seven survivors of a plane crash carrying oil drilling personnel of the lower class variety. Essentially, they’re trying to cross the snowy Alaskan wasteland to get to some woods where they’ll theoretically stand a better chance of fending off the hairy horrors of the domain they’ve intruded into. Since Ottway is played by the movie’s star, it falls to him to become the group leader, though only after establishing himself as the alpha male. What we end up with is about 80 minutes of action stuff and about 40 minutes of not very interesting philosophizing about the nature of God, manliness, and the meaning of it all. That would be bad enough, but, truth to tell, the action is only occasionally all that exciting, and the wolves are frequently not that convincing, which is a notable downside in this kind of movie.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer: Joe Carnahan
Cast: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Joe Anderson, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts, Nonso Anozie, Ben Bray, Larissa Stadnichuk and James Bitonti