The Grey is a bleak thriller / survival horror film from director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, Narc, The A-Team) starring Liam Neeson. It seems like ever since Taken, Neeson is in one actioner after another. Mind you, no one is complaining because he’s just so damned good at it. This time he is Ottway, a sharpshooter hired to protect an oil drilling operation from a ravenous pack of wolves. When a plane carrying Ottway and several co-workers goes down in the mountains, they must try to survive the cold and escape a persistent pack and it’s monstrous alpha male.
With his deep voice and tough guy demeanor, Neeson carries the film, completely selling you on his ability to do whatever he sets out to do. More than that though, he has a certain gravitas in his mien and soulful eyes that win you over to him every time. It’s John Wayne-like star power.
This is certainly Carnahan’s best film to date. He makes from this simple survival tale a grim meditation on family, death, and loss. The movie knows just when to shock you, when to look away, and when to stare death right in the face.
The talented supporting cast is almost unrecognizable under all the winter gear, scruffy beards, and of course, the blood. Dallas Roberts provides a calm counterpoint to Neeson’s tough guy hero. Frank Grillo is excellent as a mouthy challenger to Neeson’s leadership. And Joe Anderson provides a bit of levity as a nervous passenger who just can’t shut up.
The film is a bit slow in places, and could be better edited. It’s also not a feelgood popcorn muncher in the slightest. Relentlessly dark and as uncaring as the predators that stalk its characters, The Grey has chills and horror to the bitter end.
Recommendation: Go see it.