Joe Carnahan's The Grey is a bleak tale of the human will at its finest. Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonzo Anozie, and James Badge Dale star in this tale of survival against insurmountable odds. Carnahan and Ian Mckenzie Jeffers co-wrote the script that tells the story of an oil drilling team struggling to survive after a plane crash strands them in the Alaskan wilderness. If battling the elements was not enough, the survivors are hunted by a bloodthirsty pack of wolves who see them as intruders.
This movie would have been great to have been released during the summer, because the amount of snow chilled me to my bones. Neeson is great in just about every movie I have seen him in (aside from Clash of the Titans). He has such commanding presence onscreen as a wise, troubled man forced into a situation where he has to lead. His character reminds me of John Locke in Lost. Just like the plain crash caused Locke to come out the shell his wheelchair had kept him in, Neeson was trapped in a shell of depression before the films crash.
The rest of the cast is great, but Grillo is a true standout. His performance is powerful and emotional and easy to relate to. The scenes where he faces off against Neeson are great, even though you know they are not going to end well. Overall the performances are what drive the film forward.
I am looking forward to watching some of the behind-the-scenes clips on the Blu-ray so I can see what went into creating the wolves. From the credits, it seems to have been a mix of live wolves and animatronics. Greg Nicotero's makeup and creature creation is above and beyond anything else out there. The special effects are a fine example that practical effects are alive and well.
The scariest part of the wolves is not always seeing their menacing form but seeing their breath on the hills above the survivors as they howl or seeing their eyes glowing. Their growls in surround sound are well worth the price of seeing The Grey in theaters. Marc Streitfeld's score adds to the tone and the energy throughout the film.
In conclusion, The Grey is Carnahan's best film to date and a true achievement in characters and their development. The cinematography of the mountains and wilderness is immersive and beautiful. Be sure to stay after the credits for a cool scene.