[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8708[/img]Title: The Grey
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Written by: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Studio: 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Scott Free Productions
Runtime: 117 min
Blu-ray Release Date (Canada): May 22, 2012
HTS Overall Score: 82.5
Working on an oil rig in Alaska, bushman/sniper Ottway (Liam Neeson) is tasked with keeping the settlement’s employees safe from wolves that wander too close. Having finished his stint on the rig Ottway and the other employees board a plane destined for home. On route intermittent turbulence rocks the plane for a while until things go horrifically wrong when the plane starts to disintegrate.
The midair action eventually goes black and segues to Ottway bolting upright, lightly covered in snow, all
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8709[/img]amidst a storm and the remains of the plane. Quickly shaking himself off he’s thrown back into the reality of his situation; he has survived the plane crash, but now he must survive the wilderness. Amongst the mangled bodies survivors start to appear. Ottway tells them bluntly, “Either we find shelter and start a fire soon, or we die”. There’s an urgency in the matter, and it’s displayed through a no nonsense approach to the circumstances, especially through the dialogue and the state of the wounded. The frightened and stunned group take Ottway’s advice and start to scavenge through the debris for anything useful and nestle down in front of a fire within the twisted metal.
Before long the reminiscing and talk about being rescued is interrupted by ear-piercing and chilling howls emanating from the woods. The terrifying howls are soon replaced by multiple pairs of glowing eyes belonging to growling wolves. The wolves don’t just put on a show; their intentions are soon made clear when a survivor gets attacked, and I mean werewolf-style attacked where the unsuspecting person minding their own business gets tackled off screen in an instant, followed by quick shots of the beast tearing into the man until he’s dead. This provided for some jump-in-your-seat moments, but this style of attack felt like it belonged more in a supernatural movie rather than one based in reality. The look of the wolves at times left something to be desired also. The CGI and special effects used are average at best, and I don’t recall ever getting a clear look at any of the ravenous wolves.
As the men struggle with the entire situation, their patience starts to wear thin and tensions start to rise.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8712[/img]Unlike in other survival movies there’s an appreciable lack of excessive melodrama and cliché moments in The Grey. Ottway’s ingenuity, knowledge of the outdoors and wolf behavior and his ability to reason with the other survivors and encourage cooperation has prevented their deaths, but he doesn’t know everything. In a moment of frustration Ottway states honestly that he doesn’t know; which I find far more believable than him concocting a harebrained scheme on the fly.
As the men continue to trek through the thick snow and woods trying to evade the wolf pack, each obstacle they approach is dealt with on a plausible level, especially pertaining to instincts and self-preservation.
The situation the men are in is truly a living nightmare, and the actors do a fantastic job portraying each character. The simple dialogue contributes to the believability factor and there’s never any pretentiousness in their behavior. In between bouts with the wolves and having to move to stay alive the men do rest, and have extended conversations. Ottway has flashback of his wife at home, which initially I rolled my eyes at but later came to understand that it was a place he went to escape the turmoil. Getting those few seconds of solace kept his spirit from giving up.
The Grey was also a physically demanding movie to make in terms of dealing with the brutal weather and topography of the location. Even if at times the blowing snow wasn’t natural, it’s still cold, uncomfortable and the knee-deep snow you’re treading through is definitely real. I like to see actors in these masochistic roles fighting the elements and/or straining their bodies to the limits (Christian Bale in both 2004s The Machinist and 2006s Rescue Dawn). I feel that great performances can arise from self-induced hardships and the reward factor is higher.
R for violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language.
A dark color palette and intentional graininess creates a gritty raw look giving you an in-the-moment
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8707[/img]perspective. Close up facial detail is great, highlighting wrinkles, pores and hair as well as fatigue and age. Characters really stand out against the white greyish snow covered landscape. Blacks are deep when required and toned down to adjust to the scene, but consistently look fabulous. Outdoor nighttime scenes look realistically lit with just a dash of moonlight, torches and a crackling fire. When the survivors take cover within the mangled fuselage the fire does a great job to illuminate the small space with its flickering flames. The white eyes of the wolves that periodically appear penetrate the total blackness of the night in an effective scary manner. The dark green trees the characters trek through add to the overall gloomy and desolate looking landscape. The rushing body of water the characters encounter looks naturally pale and crystal clear. Despite being set in a merciless dark environment, the picture in The Grey is outstanding; colors pop to emphasize the situation and detail is incredibly high throughout and white and black levels are very impressive.
The audio in The Grey takes advantage of a high quality 5.1 system. From the onset
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8711[/img]environmental sounds are consistent, evident and utilized to create a chilling brutal atmosphere. The sound of the roaring wind is enveloping and really packs a punch to the eardrums. The rear speakers play an integral part in the constant sound activity, directional effects and overall immersive feeling. An early audio highlight comes during the scene when the plane starts to break apart. The terrifying sound of the whirring battered engine combined with metal twisting and straining, glass breaking and objects in the cabin being thrown around present a truly frightening and eerie experience. The dialogue is crisp with every breath the survivor’s take clearly audible and prioritized to match the scene. The sound of wolves howling in the distance is sporadic, never expected and truly ominous, especially when the entire pack joins in trying to assert their dominance over the struggling humans. The audio track always recreates the scene as if you were there; when the characters are outside battling the elements or under cover, the difference in the sound field is really impressive.
- Deleted Scenes
The Grey is unlike other nature survival movies in that it’s bleak from beginning to end and
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8710[/img]never compromises on its stance of presenting a situation where the outcome won’t necessarily be favourable for the characters. The unconventional ending will no doubt result in unintentional laughs, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and ending and even think it has repeat value.
Recommendation: Rent it!
Watch the Official Trailer
Watch the Official Trailer