The Grey review (Blu-ray)

"It's a thriller. It's a horror film. It's a character-driven drama of men struggling to survive," says producer Jules Daly of The Grey. Sorry Jules, but it ain't thrilling, nor is it terrifying ... and the characters fail to generate any great interest in their troublesome dilemma.

Chief among them is Liam Neeson, stuck between two stools. Is he a straight arrow hero who doesn't speak much but is commendably gifted in handling himself in dangerous situations? Or is he a suicidal individual wresting with existential angst about his life while facing an impossible dilemma whereby he must contemplate his demons? Neeson is called on to play both facets of this character and his role ends up something of a muddle. He can certainly portray both the action hero and the tragic lead, but at the same time? One would be compelling, the other intriguing but together you're left uninvolved in his plight.

And that plight is certainly appears to be dramatic. He leads a group of six men to possible safety after their plane crashes in the snowy and rough terrain of Alaska. The individuals aren't all that well defined despite the lengthy character development scenes where they talk and bond. They do this at regular intervals between the action sequences where they're attacked by predatory wolves. As each member of the group has their respective encounter with the deadly beasts, there is a slow inevitability to the unfolding narrative, and it's one that elicits little suspense and zero excitement.

The plane crash is well handled though and the atmosphere of the cold wilderness is impressively conjured – the sound of the wind as they trek along the snowy landscape is powerful, but overall this drab drama never takes off. Top production values to be sure, but all in all the results are negligible.

EXTRAS ★★★ An audio commentary with Carnahan, and film editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellmann; and six deleted scenes.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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