{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Grey - Movie Review


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4 stars

The Grey, reuniting Neeson with his A-Team director Joe Carnahan (who asked him after fellow A-Team star, Bradley Cooper, dropped out), has appealed to many since it was released early this year, but not without its share of controversy.

It is alleged that the production procured the corpses of four grey wolves: two for props and two for the cast and crew to consume. If this is true, then I condemn all who participated. It is also alleged, by animal rights groups, that the film should be boycotted because it depicts the grey wolf, only recently taken off the endangered species list, in a negative light. I also condemn this ridiculous assertion, and would like to remind those groups that not everyone on the planet is a complete moron, and we can effectively separate a fictional film’s narrative from reality.

Now onto the movie, since that’s why we’re here, yes?

The Grey tells the story of Ottway (Neeson) a mining company’s contractor for protecting its employees against the isolated area’s wildlife—especially wolves. Ottway feels like his life is over; in fact he means to end it. The cry of a wolf at night stalls his attempt, and he ends up leaving the next day with a bunch of roughnecks on a plane headed for civilization. The plane crashes in an isolated arctic wilderness, smack bang in the middle of a wolf pack’s hunting ground. Ottway and small band of survivors make a break south, trying to head out of the wolves’ territory, but can any of them make it that far?

This could have just as easily been as simple a story as that summary, but it’s got complexity in characterization that raises its bar far beyond a man vs. wild affair. This is more about a group of men who have taken their lives for granted, in some form or another, and how their ordeal gives them a new perspective—brutally so—and a will to continue and savour what really matters. The economy the script employs to achieve this is exceptional: with very few exceptions, these men do not sit for lengthy existential chats, nor is their heavy exposition on their lives. Simple photographs or behaviours are carefully sculpted around the central plot to great effect. You care about these men, even the jerk off, and feel their absence as each one is picked off by the pack, one by one.

Speaking of the wolves, any assertions that the wolves are portrayed as demonic in this film are from people who haven’t seen it. Are they scary? Yes. Are they the film’s antagonists? Yes. Are they shown only to attack the main characters? Yes. But this is not an inaccurate portrayal of predators defending their territory. Neeson’s character explains this before the real carnage unfolds. This is not a documentary, showing the entire spectrum of a wolf’s life, this is a fictional film. The wolves are there to serve a function in the story, and they do so to great effect.

The vistas are incredible, as are all of the cinematography, the editing, and the beautiful simplistic score from Marc Streitenfeld. Carnahan chose to use CGI to bring the wolves to life—something I think failed to work in The Day After Tomorrow—and while most of the time you suspend your disbelief, there are a few times where the wolves don’t register as real. The actors are the highlight of the movie; each and every one of them infusing their respective characters with real humanity (for better or worse) that could do nothing but create empathy for their plight.

This is an A class film from top to bottom. It’s not perfect, but pretty darn close. The world loves this kind of tale, as Jaws proved all those years ago. I am confident an audience will see it for what it is, not start thinking about killing wolves, and focus on what it really is about: life is precious, try not to take it for granted, and fight for it if you have to.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Grey - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language.
: Joe Carnahan
Writer: Joe Carnahan & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Liam Neeson; Dallas Roberts; Frank Grillo; Dermot Mulroney; James Badge Dale
Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
Tagline: Live or Die on This Day
Memorable Movie Quote: "I work security, protecting men from the dangers they cannot see."
Open Road Films
Official Site: thegreythemovie.com
Release Date:
January 27, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 15, 2012

Synopsis: In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Grey - Blu-ray

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 15, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy; BD-Live; D-Box; Social network features; Mobile features
Encoding: Region-free

The MPEG-4 AVC encoded picture is a highly detailed, very filmic looking transfer, with noticeable grain, beautiful delineation in the constant masses of whites, awesome contrast, which aids in making blacks that ominous place where a wolf might be lurking, and great—if completely frozen—natural skin tones on the actors. Sound, a masterfully effectively DTS-HD 5.1 mix, will aid in peeling first timers to the movie off the roof. I should be a hardened and desensitized movie-goer, after all these years, but I saw details in the ceiling I haven’t before. The sound is reference quality. Extras on the UK and US release are fairly sparse: you get some deleted scenes and a commentary track.



  • Co-writer/Director Joe Carnahan and Editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellmann provide the film’s commentary track.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes (22 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}