The Grey: Liam Neeson vs. Wolves

The Grey: Liam Neeson vs. Wolves

THE GREY One man’s existential quest to kick the asses of wolves (starring Liam Neeson).

Entertainment writers started calling Will Smith "Mr. July" in honor of his string of wildly popular summer blockbusters, several of which did not debut in July. Using that logic, Liam Neeson has become Mr. January with a series of profitable potboilers released in Hollywood's frigid dead season. Taken in 2008 (plot: Liam Neeson vs. the Kidnappers) was a winter action thriller that surprised the box office for weeks. Awful Unknown in 2011 (Liam Neeson vs. Amnesia) was a successful remounting of the formula after Chloe in 2009 (Liam Neeson vs. Fatal Attraction) veered too far into art house territory.

So. The Grey. Liam Neeson vs. the Wolves seems to be a perfect Mr. January setup, but something feels wrong. Set in the frozen twilight wastes of Alaska, The Grey feels more like a tone poem than the stolid chunks of exposition Taken and Unknown served up. Neeson writes a vague letter to a woman in voice-over as he wanders around a desolate oil field of manly men doing manly things. He's the manliest man of all, hired to shoot the vicious wolves that prowl the perimeter of the encampment.

Director Joe Carnahan slices the narrative up into tiny atmospheric chunks until an unsettling plane crash sequence—frequent air travelers might well be traumatized—sets up the premise. Neeson and a small, unruly crew of survivors must fight their way across the icy north while doing battle with a pack of crafty, man-hungry wolves. From there, things revert to pretty basic man versus nature stuff—you've seen it all before—until the last 20 minutes, which become depressing and impressionistic all over again. Ultimately, The Grey isn't smart enough to become the deep meditation on mortality Carnahan wants it to be, but it's just artsy enough to frustrate the entertainment-seeking fans who want to see Mr. January. Nobody leaves The Grey in a good mood. recommended


Comments (9) RSS

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But are the wolves in question real or CGI? Sounds terrible either way.
Posted by meso on January 25, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Knat 2
@1: They are apparently real with puppets for the grappling shots. (Daily Show interview w/ Liam Neeson.)
Posted by Knat on January 25, 2012 at 5:23 PM · Report this
THE GREY WAS AWESOME! this writer is just a grump. Go see THE GREY man!
Posted by Mr.Yuck on January 26, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
thelyamhound 4
How do you think this will serve audience members who are interested both in art films AND lowbrow action? Is the mix too heterogeneous to work?
Posted by thelyamhound on January 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 5
for a moment i thought it was "The Gay", and Liam Neeson had to fight his way through a Fire Island circuit party.
Posted by scary tyler moore on January 27, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Goddamn Stranger, you so artsy
Posted by Ikelleigh on January 27, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
This is absurd. I was at first upset about how wolves are being portrayed (falsely as vicious human predators). I mean, what the fuck, did Sarah Palin bankroll the movie? Then I realized I wasn't ever going to go see it and that no one else will either.
Posted by brendanmcgarry on January 29, 2012 at 10:56 PM · Report this
It's only a movie.
Posted by papajoe on January 30, 2012 at 7:34 PM · Report this
I know it's illogical, but after all of the bragging Palin did about shooting wolves from helicpoters, etc - I want the wolves to win! I would see this movie if they had a scene where a wolf tears apart a 40-something, glasses-wearing woman with tall hair who's last line is 'You betcha.' Truly, a missed opportunity.
Posted by dude-man on February 1, 2012 at 8:45 AM · Report this

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