{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Grey - Movie Review


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4 stars

The Grey is a survivalist’s Holy Bible.  It looks unassuming and, chances are, you’ll roll in to it not expecting much, but – lo and behold – hell hath no fury like humans and their will to live.  It’s a tight story without an inch of flab and, with strong stock characters that continue to be interesting in spite of their inherit predictability, The Grey packs quite a poetic wallop.

A plane pitches forward.  Brace for impact.  The Grey is a quiet art-house movie for the cineplex crowds; the armchair quarterback's hail mary pass into an endzone full of literary scholars.  Seven survivors must face the harsh elements of an unrelenting Mother Nature and a pack of wild wolves in the Alaskan Wilderness after living through a dramatic plane crash.  Only one - John Ottway (Liam Neeson) – has the skills to manage this unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks...and he's not even sure he wants to live anymore.

Originally hired to protect an oil drilling team from the threat of wolves, Ottway is a cold and distant man who, only recently, withdrew a gun from his own mouth after hearing the cold howl of a wolf.  From suicide to survivor, Ottway must command Flannery (Joe Anderson), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Hendrick (Dallas Roberts), Burke (Nonso Anozie), Hernandez (Ben Bray) and a dying Lewenden (James Badge Dale) in order to survive the gray wolf territory they have landed in.

In a reversal of sorts to Jack London’s classic short story “To Build a Fire”, the writers of The Grey - director Joe Carnahan and Ian MacKenzie Jeffers – present tension in both packs (the men vs. the wolves) and suggests that instinct is only akin to the will to survive and not the actual trump card.  What follows in their trek away from the dangeroius land of the gray wolf is a veritable slaughter of man and wolf in extreme conditions.  Men’s loyalty to a higher cause is tested and their physical and mental strength is snapped like twigs on the ground by the danger surrounding and stalking them.  With no reprieve, madness comes to a Matterhorn-like setting.

Directed by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Smokin’ Aces), this man vs. nature picture remains a steely-eyed affair.  Carnahan handles the elements and the violence well and never shies away from the grittiness of the elements and the wild around these men.  There’s even a bit of peacefulness that alights the situation and, when it comes time to find the pictures conclusion, comes crashing down in a quiet arc of transcendentalism.  One and the same.  One and the same.

While the film is sure to anger environmentalists and PETA alike, there can be no denying that, as a survivalist movie, The Grey is a thrilling endeavor.  While the film could easily have rested on its icy set-up alone, there’s a philosophical undertone that transports the film into a sort of metaphysical realm as man ponders his existence in the natural world.  This is a true American motif and, in spite of the tough guy, happy guy, family guy, dead guy categories of the characters, it absolutely saves the film from just being about killing wolves.

Violent and beautifully moving, The Grey is this year’s January surprise.  It’s Taken meets Alive with none of the hollowness of last year’s Unknown; reason enough for America to continue loving the hairy beast that is Liam Neeson.

I wonder what he’ll be in next January?

{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

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4 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

In what amounts to a slightly above average encode, The Grey roars onto blu-ray.  Nice textures and grain levels abound throughout the 1080p transfer.  Colors are rich, though the dominant colors are white, blue and, to be expected, grey.  While detail sometimes gets nicked in favor of grain levels, The Grey does feature a nice authentic feel to the action appearing on the screen.  Facial features are crisp and due to the subzero temperatures effectively pale.   There’s a documentary-like feel to the film that the AVC MPEG-4 encode replicates from the primary source which is nice.  The wonderfully immersive experience is capped with a dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround sound track that rivals some of the best released.  The elements go to work in all speakers causing, at times, dialogue to get lost in the heat of the moment.  Authentic and spooky, all at once.



  • Hey, fellas, I found one!  Commentary tracks are beginning to be like an easter egg hunt or a search for a golden Willy Wonka ticket.  Co-writer/Director Joe Carnahan and Editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellmann provide the film’s commentary track.  The filmmakers talk at length, as they through a couple back, about filming The Grey and about the choices they had to make in the wake of difficulties.  They do have a tendency to complement each other rather than discuss the film, but when they focus on specific scenes one can learn a great deal about their intentions.

Special Features:

And here, Virginia, is where it all falls apart.  The supplemental material includes six deleted, extended, or alternate scenes and nothing else.  The disc does come with a PocketBLU app and is BDLive enabled, but that doesn’t make the deleted scenes anymore exciting. The cut scenes are long and, at times, so deserving of a better edit that they become a bit tedious.  Twenty minutes later…there’s nothing else.

  • Deleted Scenes (22 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}