The Grey (15)



Action (2012)
117mins US

Starring: Frank Grillo, Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, James Badge Dale, Nonso Anozie
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer(s): Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, Joe Carnahan
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Sharp-shooter Ottway is employed by a refinery in Alaska to shoot the wolves that sometimes target the roughnecks as they carry out their exhausting work. After a gruelling five-week shift, Ottway boards the plane home only for a brutal storm to wrench the craft apart, depositing the widower and seven other men into the Alaskan tundra, where a pack of snarling wolves picks off the men one by one.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Grey

Air transport may well be trumpeted as the safest form of travel but for film-makers, the possibilities of disaster above terra firma are irresistible...

The Grey. Entertainment FilmsSet in the frozen mountains of Alaska, The Grey is a nightmarish thriller about a group of oil-rig workers who survive a devastating plane crash, only to find that they have plummeted into the hunting ground of a pack of snarling wolves. It's a classic showdown between man and Mother Nature, and as usual, our arrogance, believing we stand tall atop the food chain, is swiftly punished by the wily predators. The pivotal crash sequence is orchestrated with brio by director Joe Carnahan, who depicts the carnage through the eyes of the central character as he drifts out of consciousness, flames licking the air above his head as the fuselage disintegrates. Visual effects really come to the fore once the survivors stumble out of the wreckage when digitally rendered wolves are combined with trained live animals and puppet animatronics. Unfortunately, the computer-generated creatures don't look realistic and the script, co-written by Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, has bark but no bite. The order in which the cast will perish is clearly telegraphed and characterisation is thin, giving us scant reason to care about the men when tragedy stares them in the eye.

Sharp-shooter Ottway (Liam Neeson) is employed by a refinery in Alaska to shoot the wolves that sometimes target the roughnecks as they carry out their exhausting work. After a gruelling five-week shift, Ottway boards the plane home only for a brutal storm to wrench the craft apart, depositing the widower and seven other men - Burke (Nonso Anozie), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Flannery (Joe Anderson), Henrick (Dallas Roberts), Hernandez (Ben Bray), Lewenden (James Badge Dale) and Talget (Dermot Mulroney) - into the Alaskan tundra. The men huddle together for warmth but the local wildlife quickly encroaches on the crash site, attacking one of the men. With the howls of wolves chilling the survivors even more than the icy blasts of wind, Ottway tries to galvanise his co-workers into action. "We'll kill 'em. One at a time. Tip the numbers. That's what they're doing to us," he growls, determined to fend off the flesh-hungry beasts.

The Grey. Picture: Kimberley French. Entertainment FilmsThe Grey is a testosterone-fuelled survival thriller than casts Neeson as the hard man haunted by tragedy. Physically, the actor is more than capable of taking on an entire ecosystem but he fails to fully convey Ottway's underlying grief that drives the hero onwards when other men fall. Supporting cast are largely dispensable, earmarked as fresh meat for those starving wolves. Tension dissipates in the second half as some of the plot twists and decisions strain credibility, while a brief post-credits scene is both ambiguous and pointless.

- Kim Hu


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