Thursday, February 2, 2012

It Came From The Cineplex: The Grey

Liam Neeson stars in The Grey, the latest from director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces, The A-Team) and producer siblings Ridley and Tony Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Unstoppable and many more).

A WILDERNESS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!

Neeson plays John Ottway, an Alaskan oil company sniper who protects pipeline workers from wolf attacks. Ottway is despondent over the recent death of his wife to the point of considering suicide.

Ottway and a crew of pipeline workers boards a plane heading back to the Lower 48. On the way home, the plane encounters a storm and crashes in the snowy wilderness of Canada. Ottway and six other passengers must then band together to survive the elements and the relentless pack of bloodthirsty wolves that begin picking them off one by one.

It's a bleak and gritty tale of survival against the elements and nature; one that forces you to wonder what you'd do in such a situation.

Many are whining about what they consider the less than satisfying ending. There's no good way to talk about it without spoiling it, so here goes: Ottway ends up the last survivor and unwittingly wanders into the wolves' den. The alpha wolf appears and prepares to attack. Ottway reaches into his pocket and grabs a handful of tiny airline alcohol bottles. He tapes them to his knuckles and breaks them on a rock, creating makeshift jagged Wolverine claws. He then snarls, "Come on!" at the wolf and the screen goes black.

Unlike many, I didn't find the ending lacking at all. The film isn't about an epic final battle between Ottway and Super Wolf, it's about Ottway finally deciding he wants to live. Earlier in the film he actually stuck the end of his rifle in his mouth, coming within a hair's breadth of suicide. He'd given up. Now out here in the wilderness he's had a change of heart. He asked God for help and when it didn't come he said, "FU, Yahweh!" and decided to take control of his own destiny.

And FYI, for those who didn't like the ending: If you all didn't insist on bolting out of the theater like Olympic sprinters the second the film ends, you'd know there was a short scene after the credits which strongly implies that Ottway won. So there.

This whole controversy about the ending wouldn't have happened if not for the misleading trailer. I really wish studios would stop editing trailers to make a movie look like something it's not. I get that the object of a trailer is to lure butts into the seats, but you're not going to win any friends by outright lying to the audience. And filming scenes just for the trailer that don't actually appear in the movie– that's even worse. I though we had truth in advertising laws.

One last thing: I have to give props to Liam Neeson for the scenes in which Ottway dreams of his dying wife. Neeson's real-life wife, Natasha Richardson, died just a few years ago in 2009 after a skiing accident. Those scenes must have hit very close to home and were probably very tough for him to film.

Pros:
• Liam Neeson kicks significant ass. He's rapidly becoming my favorite actor. I'll even give him a pass for starring in The Phantom Menace.

• Good performances all around, great cinematography and location shooting

• Nothing explodes at the end.

Cons:
• Misleading trailer gets audiences fired up for a battle that never happens (onscreen, at least).

• There were a few distracting scenes in which the wolves were obviously CGI.

• As I mentioned earlier, Ottway tapes airline booze bottles to his hands and breaks them, forming crude jagged glass weapons with which to fight the wolves.

Are airline alcohol bottles really made of glass? I'd think they'd be plastic.

I give The Grey an A-.

1 comment:

  1. Liam Neeson was on the daily show the other night, and he said that every day when they flew up the mountains to where they were filming he thought about how ironic it would be if the plane crashed and the survivors were hunted by wolves.

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