In amongst the current spate of Oscar baiting films The Grey almost got overlooked but low and then behold a sneaky Monday night trip meant that the latest offering from the mighty Liam Neeson didn’t get missed.
PLOT: Ottway (Liam Neeson) and his crew of clichéd characters survive a plane crash and are stranded in the wolf infested wilderness. Being chased down by a pack of extremely stealthy wolves the survivors try to make their way to safety. Liam Neeson punches a wolf. Place your bets on who lives and who dies. END PLOT
The plot of The Grey took me by surprise as it follows traditional horror film beats – band of characters picked off one by one until the last man stands. There were quite a few jumps courtesy of ninja wolves appearing from nowhere but I was brave and although I survived many vaguely familiar actors died. May they rest in pieces.
The survivalist plot, although not particularly original, was well executed. It was very much helped by the strong cast who managed to make cardboard characters appear interesting before their inevitable demise.
Liam Neeson was great as Ottway and leads the cast with ease. It was a wise decision to allow Neeson's character to be Irish as he never bothers attempting an accent anyway.
The Grey - Liam Neeson's addition tape for the next stage of Wolverine's ageing process.
The tone of The Grey was grim, bleak and events were taken very seriously. There are no witty quips as “comedy character” did not survive the initial plane crash.
Speaking of plane crash - I have to admit that I am terrified of flying. If there is even the slightest hint of turbulence I am making my peace with the Lord. The crash in The Grey was tough going and the tension never let up from there.
On another day with another cast The Grey had the potential to be very run of the mill but Joe Carnahan has created a film which is genuinely stressful. The wolves created a real sense of danger throughout the film - whether they were on screen or not.
The Grey is a great watch but it is not quite perfect - there are perhaps too many flashbacks of Liam Neeson’s wife fluttering about with a bed sheet and I can’t work out whether or not the ending was clever or cheesy.
The Grey is one of those films enhanced by the cinema. It is most definitely worth a look on the big screen as I don't think the jumps and tension will be the same on dvd although I am unlikely to watch it again to test this theory. Despite its faults and lack of originality The Grey still manages to be a bloody good film and it deserves a decent 8/10.
Disclaimer: this is a pretty poor review even by my lowly standards but my energy has been sapped trying to fit "Liam Neeson" and "one man wolf-pack" into a witty sentence.