The Grey

thegreyOkay, the first thing you’re gonna have to do is completely forget the trailer for THE GREY. It deliberately tricks you into believing something cool is gonna happen in the movie that is not gonna happen in the movie, and it gives away most of the major events, including the very end. It’s a mean trailer.

Also, don’t expect an action movie. There are times when shit goes down, but it is very much a post-action style of failing to film action. Way worse than TAKEN in that respect, so maybe blurry Liam Neeson will eventually be its own subgenre. I’m not convinced that director Joe Carnahan was actually filming images that had anything to do with the particular scenes. It’s possible he took the time to film a puppet wolf attacking an actor, but it might as well have been dirty laundry on the floor of his bedroom or somebody eating garlic fries at a baseball game, because all you see is a shaky smear of closeups on nothing.

mp_thegreyThat holds the movie back, but it’s not fatal, because it’s really more about the characters and the mood and a bunch of men out in the cold thinking about death. THE GREY is the story of a group of workers in Alaska who survive a plane crash out in the snowy asshole of the earth and then try to stumble back to safety. While being hunted by wolves. That’s about it.

For what it’s worth this is my new favorite movie by Carnahan. Keep in mind I thought NARC was good but not as great as everybody else said at the time, I really liked parts of SMOKIN’ ACES but thought other parts were terrible, and I probly only enjoyed THE A-TEAM at all because I’m such a kind and forgiving individual. But this one has an unironic macho-ness and a heart-on-its-sleeve quality that I think is very Carnahan and very appealing. It opens with a long first-person narration from Liam Neeson that involves both a love letter to a wife he lost and a poem he likes to recite gravely. And the poem comes up a couple more times in the movie. Also he ignores a ROAD HOUSE sized bar brawl while having a drink, almost commits suicide and holds his hand against a wolf he shot to calm it as it bleeds to death. All in the first 5 or 10 minutes. So I liked this movie.

Neeson was one of the highlights of THE A-TEAM, and he must’ve really liked working with Carnahan because this is not one he could do for the paycheck. It has to have been very personal to him, playing a mourning, suicidal man dealing with death so soon after he lost his wife in real life. It almost makes it uncomfortable, like they’re exploiting his tragedy for a movie, but I think he knows what he’s doing. It’s not like they tricked him into signing on, so it must’ve been meaningful to him.

I’m sure this wasn’t a hugely expensive movie, and there’s an occasional phony background shot, but you can tell it was mostly shot on location. The frozen, windy hellhole that it takes place in feels very real, not artificial. Unlike 30 DAYS OF NIGHT I really felt like these poor fuckers were freezing their toes off every day and that they had gone through the ringer by the end. You see their breath alot and I’m pretty sure it’s not CGI.

That reality is established early on with the little rough edges that make it look more like a place and less like a movie setting. I love the bar he goes to, which is huge and brightly lit like a school gym. You can see why he keeps his parka on inside. But that’s the best place they have to go to out there. And the bumpy plane ride goes on for a long time before it crashes, I can’t remember another turbulence scene that felt that authentic. The actual crash sequence is so terrifying that you just know some motherfucker is gonna make sure it becomes in-flight entertainment.

Well, before long Neeson and several other plane crash survivors are scavenging clothes, alcohol, weapons and flammable liquids from the wreckage and trying to figure out how to not freeze to death. I thought it was funny that Neeson immediately takes charge, and at first nobody questions it. It’s almost like they realize that he’s the lead in the movie. But honestly I think it makes sense and fits the themes, because that’s the type of guy he is, a natural leader. I mean, the first time he sees a wolf out there he calls it a motherfucker and runs straight at it. So he demands respect. If he started telling you what to do you’d probly think “this guy seems to know what he’s doing” too. And of course as the movie becomes more about wolves you realize that he’s the alpha-male leading the pack. And thankfully this is never said out loud by any of the characters.

I also laughed when he started spitting out facts about wolves, that they hunt in a 30 mile radius from their den or something like that. But I have to admit that was unfair, I just didn’t realize that the earlier scene where he shot a wolf was establishing that shooting wolves is his job. He is an expert so that’s why he knows that stuff. It would be funnier if he was just a guy who knew alot of random facts about wildlife. Maybe he reads alot of National Geographic.

Their battle with the wolves is pretty simple. They know the wolves are picking them off one by one, and they hope to do the same thing back. But mostly they just try to head for civilization without getting eaten. They don’t try to build a brick house or anything.

Most of the movie is what happens in between the confrontations with beasts. At its best it evokes my favorite scene in JAWS, the long scene of bonding on the boat that leads to Quint’s famous U.S.S. Indianapolis story. Of course it’s not as good as that scene and the rest of the movie is not as good as the rest of JAWS, but it’s still admirable. It’s a bunch of assholes that don’t know each other real well going through hell together, eventually feeling close enough to talk about their lives and fears, and to laugh a little bit.

I didn’t recognize any of these guys besides Neeson, which was cool. They seemed like genuine guys that would be on that plane. I honestly had no idea until the credits that the guy with the glasses who I really liked was Dermot Mulroney. And Diaz, the ex-con guy, is Frank Grillo, Joel Edgerton’s classical music loving trainer in WARRIOR.

This is about as pure a Liam Neeson vehicle as you could get, merging his genre past and present with his dramatic chops. He gets to be tougher and wiser and braver than everybody else, but also sensitive. He gets to cry macho. He shows you to be hopeful even when you’re obviously fucked. If Grandma had seen this that wolf probly never would’ve been able to steal her clothes.

I don’t know if this movie is gonna go over very well. I heard some people laughing at it at the screening I went to. Maybe Carnahan’s brand of rugged poetic survivalism would’ve worked better with some actual wolf fights. Spoonful of sugar and all that. I sure wouldn’t have complained. But THE GREY has a bleakness and a manliness and a sincerity that works for me, and probly a few others.

BONUS END SPOILER: in case you saw the movie and didn’t stay after the credits, there is a little bit after them. But it seemed to me (and I think intentionally) just as ambiguous about the fate of the two combatants as the part before the credits. Kind of a cute way to tell your audience to go fuck itself. It’s like if after the credits on THE THING they made it seem like they were gonna tell you which one was the Thing and then they just faded to black again.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 at 11:56 pm and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

40 Responses to “The Grey”

  1. Fuck trailers. I don’t even leave my home for the theatre until the listed showtime, so I’m usually taking my seat in the middle of the last or next to last trailer. Carolina traffic is cool like that, plus it’s just a 1.1 mile jog/bicycle trip to the closest multiplex.

    That FAST 5 trailer a year ago was badass, though. And I’m not gonna lie, that Disney JOHN CARTER thing looks like fun based on the trailer. Pretty much all the other trailers are garbage. The exceptions are not numerous enough to justify the number of times they waste my time or piss me off with spoilage or cause future disappointment. I almost had to walk out when James Cameron’s 3Dified Celine Dion Song got cranked up to 11 for a pre-show minute. Christ.

    What were we talking about? Oh yeah,
    lack of wolf vs. bottle-fingered Neeson fight
    Maybe I’ll someday catch THE GREY at home when I stream it to ridicule a buddy who once got stationed in Alaska or had his wife die or something.

  2. I’ve always had a soft spot for Carnahan’s really early film ‘Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane’. Impressive what he and his crew did for pocket change…. even moreso for utilizing the web to spread the word long before it was commonplace.

  3. I’m really looking forward to this one. I love Man Vs. Wild movies and I support anything Carnahan does financially in hope that my measly $6 and change helps KILLING PABLO happen one day.

  4. I’ve long ceased referring to this film by its title, and I’ve started to call it that movie where Liam Neeson punches wolves. Although, it seems from Vern’s review that there is little to no punching going on in this film. I might have to readjust my expectations.

  5. I know, right? I was so thinking of this as WOLF PUNCHER: THE MOVIE. Having to adjust my expectations may prove to be a Herculean feet. Still, better I know now, rather than once I’m in the theater. Sounds excellent though, especially if it tops NARC, my current favorite Carnahan flick.

  6. This sounds like another in Carnahan’s string of movies that aren’t as good as they should have been but grow on you over time. He can’t shoot action for shit (a few of the sniping bits in SMOKIN’ ACES notwithstanding) but there’s something in the way that his garrulous personality comes across in his movies that makes me feel kinder towards them than they probably deserve. So I’ll definitely be checking this out on DVD when the lack of explicit wolf-punching won’t be a deal-breaker.

  7. Neeson isn’t a stranger to the rugged, men of the wilderness survival genre. He also did the very underrated SERAPHIM FALLS.

    That too was an introspection of manliness, a pretty good guy’s guy film – although with some bizarro spiritualism thrown in. I doubt any of the wolves in THE GREY will meet the devil in their travels. Won’t hold that against the film, but I am a bit disappointed that they cut a very misleading trailer. It does seem to promise a much more action packed film than it really is.

    Still, Neeson in a smart, quietly macho film is enough to get my attention. Probably won’t see it in the cinema, but I am sure to watch it at home, maybe with a good steak and a beer.

  8. That lady in Michigan that sued DRIVE for false advertising sure is going to be pissed off…

    I don’t care. I’m a total sucker for these kind of movies. I’ll never, ever, have to seal a portal from hell or battle an unstoppable serial killer, but I might get eaten by a wolf someday. Improbable but not impossible as this is it really helps with the old suspension of disbelief. A movie about crazy survival shit has to land pretty low for me not to enjoy it, blurry wolves and all.

  9. “Okay, the first thing you’re gonna have to do is completely forget the trailer for THE GREY.”

    Fucking impossible, since I’ve seen both trailers for this movie in front of every single film I’ve seen in theaters going all the way back to August. I saw this trailer in front of Spy Kids 4 and knew I was fucked and would have to see it incessantly for five months.

    Fuck marketing.

  10. Why do they bother with the misleading advertising? It just pisses people off. Do they think people really need the promise of Liam Neeson punching a wolf to go see the film? Actually, that sounds pretty intriguing, maybe I’ll check it out.

    Anyway, I agree with HT on Seraphim Falls. That first half hour! I’ve put in in my trio of genre-films-of-the-00’s-that-are-maybe-about-Hell-or-something alongside Sunshine and The Descent. I’ve never understood why it was Taken and not Seraphim Falls that spurred the Liam Neeson as badass revival. Do people just not like westerns? Or Pierce Brosnan? Because Seraphim Falls is far superior to Taken. Taken did kind of creep me out though because it really seemed like Neeson had arranged for his daughter to be kidnapped so she would become terrified of the outside world thus giving him an excuse to keep her locked in his basement.

  11. Vern – sorry, but honestly I wasn’t going to possibly go see it until CM Punk gave it two WWE ice cream bars up. And he unfortunately he hyped up our local anticipation for Neeson-punching-wolf action to which I doubt it can live up to it.

    Mr. M – As fucked up as it sounds, Carnahan in that regard arguably reminds me of John Carpenter. Not as good or consistent (Carp’s first loser only came in the 1990s), but one of Carpenter’s knacks seems to be his ability at his prime to make his movies immensely watchable and rewatchable. Does that makes make sense?

    No? OK good, because I refuse to put Carp anywhere near a lame mess like the A-TEAM.

  12. SERAPHIM FALLS was one of the best modern westerns. Never did see THE A-TEAM. The thing I see with Carnahan it’s the same thing Majestyk sees when seeing his flicks; pure primal honest self expression. You can’t help but admire a guy like that. His attitude and personality are completely represented by the tone of his films. I respect that. It’s one of NARC’s strengths and why I love that movie so much. Not so much SMOKIN’ ACES but maybe I should watch that one again someday.

  13. Seraphim Falls was a great movie. I loved Neeson in it. I even enjoyed Brosnan’s performance. As for The Grey, its a must watch for me. Even if its just one wolf punch. I love that man vs wilderness shit.

  14. Huh. Sounds like THE EDGE for 2K12. I like movies like that, particularly if the villainous wolf pack is anywhere near as campy and psychotic as the Bear (and fuck yeah he gets a capitalized name because he practically steals the movie from Baldwin and Hopkins, no easy feat) in that film.

  15. Vern, does he at least punch a wolf at some point?

  16. time to make a controversial statement, I can’t understand why anyone would willingly convert to a Religion as constrictive as Islam, or any Religion for that matter

    but that’s just the “wanting to get out, but can’t really due to fears and family” atheist inside me talking, though I really can’t understand why anyone would convert to a Religion they were not raised with, the less bullshit you have to deal with, the better life is

  17. and if I may expound a bit (because I’m bored)

    Christianity chose me, I didn’t choose it, but if I had been given a choice I’m sure I would have been an atheist

    people always talk about Religion offering “comfort” to people, but I can speak from experience that any comfort you get from it is ruined by two things, Hell and the Apocalypse

    let me tell you, Hell and the Apocalypse are scary fucking things that ruin any “comfort” you might get from Christianity, you’ll always have that fear in the back of your head that you’re doing something wrong and might wind up in hell and you’ll always know that the world is just one step away from the Apocalypse

    but hey, there’s a chance you might get in Heaven! and it’s supposed to be good even though the Bible doesn’t really tell you anything about it! it only requires you giving up everything fun in *this* world for the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure… A new life awaits you in the Off-World Colonies! (err I mean Heaven)

    gee, if my dad knew this was how I secretly felt, he would have a (holy) cow!

    ok then, rant over

  18. hey, now that I think about it, it reminds me of conspiracy theorists

    I’ve always wondered why would you WANT to believe that an unstoppable secret society that controls everything yet is evil enough to plan something like 9/11 is working around the clock to make sure you, your friends and your family are dead? call me an ignorant sheeple if you want, but I choose to believe something that doesn’t make me want to kill myself

    do you really get that much comfort in “knowing how the world works”?

    maybe’s that what it all boils down to, people look at the world we live in, with all of it’s mind boggling complexities and decide that they just have to have an answer as to how it “works”

    why, it’s God/The Illuminati that controls everything! don’t you see?

    but they’re reading between the lines at patterns and things that aren’t there, they’d rather have depressing, horrible answers to life than no answers at all

    and yes, conspiracy theories are a new Religion, the followers pray at the Church of Alex Jones and David Icke and pray that those all powerful Godmen, The Illuminati see fit not to smite us all too soon to reign in their terrible new Heaven

    they have their own myths, the Magic Bullet, the Thermite bomb, the mind controlled popstar and those who are too blind to see the truth are doomed to damnation at the hands of the all powerful Illuminati

    sorry, I know I’m really ranting here, but I’m on a roll!

  19. Really did not enjoy this one. I wasn’t feeling the story. Jaws is about guys going after a shark, which makes it more proactive than guys trying to escape from wolves. That is something more courageous. Here, just trying to survive by not getting eaten makes this story incredibly redundant on top of the fact they are already out in the middle of nowhere. Seems like just subsisting on food and water, trying to hike their way to civilization is already difficult enough without the wolves on their trail. In Jaws you also know the characters pretty well.

    This has more similarity to a slasher film than to Jaws. Characters are meant to be killed off, and you know immediately which ones they are, so you don’t really give a shit about them. It’s kind of a strange dynamic horror films seem to enjoy having. They want you to like the characters just enough but not too much, because they’ll be killed off anyway.

    Plus weren’t these guys ex-cons? How come they all have pictures of their wives and kids in their wallets? They were all really adorable too. I think there may be one ex-con in the group who was banging a fat prostitute and complaining about it. So I’m not sure I understood the point of giving these characters a criminal background. It didn’t seem to affect the story one way or the other.

    The flashbacks to Liam’s wife were poorly handled. The laughs in my theater were a result of hearing his dad’s poem and seeing his wife repeatedly say “don’t be afraid”. It was too much.

    This was a good attempt at a survival story, but come on. Wolves attacking humans like this is not a plausible scenario to begin with. This really stretched the limits of “escapist” theater going for me. Would not see it again.

  20. One of them was an (implied) ex-con. The “Omega” that exists for Neeson to prove his Alpha status on and make ironic boasts about his intent to survive only to decide that it’s alright to just sit down and die.

    …a scene that might have been really effective if it hadn’t had so goddamn much dialog, which is my big problem with the whole picture: It tries so hard to be poetry, it talks itself to death.

  21. I meant to say “just” one of them was an ex-con, as far as the movie implies, in response to The Devil. “Ex-con” being just one of a laundry-list of things Neeson reels off in his opening monologue that are meant to equal “someone without a lot of personal connections or options who might find themselves accepting a job on a particularly isolated chunk of Alaska.”

  22. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 1st, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Damn, sorry Vern, I posted my write-up of this one in Potpourri. I didn’t even realise it had come out in America and completely missed your review.

    Agree with most of it though. The character interactions are definitely the best bits, the action stuff is definitely the worst. Overall I liked it but wasn’t totally enamoured.

  23. This is like a 2012 wolves version of The Edge without a young Alec Baldwin and bears.
    and Michael from Lost. and a cheating wife subplot.
    and also not set in canada.

    Actually this is nothing like The Edge.

    The Edge is brilliant btw. David Mamet watch that shit.

  24. I was leveled by this movie. Yeah, the “action” scenes were a shaky mess, but this is one of those cases where I think it was appropriate. The violence is quick and ugly. It was creepy as hell too. Those glowing eyes in the dark, the disembodied wolf’s breathe. Goosebumps. It had the single scariest plane crash I think I’ve ever seen in a movie and the scariest drowning scene this side of The Abyss. I was unprepared for how emotionally wrenching it was going to be. Every death hurt, and Neeson’s performance was a raw nerve. Really painful to watch. And the ending? Good god man. Tears. It was simultaneously rousing and heartbreaking. This is my benchmark for 2012.

  25. My litmus test for movies being good or not is whether the film makers succeed in making me feel the way they intended. The thought that lingered as soon as the credits rolled was how I devastated I would be if my wife died, and how hard it would be to move on. So there you go.

    Could someone describe the bit after the credits that Vern mentioned. I don’t wanna wait till I rent it on Netflix…

  26. Christof – AFTER THE CREDITS SPOILER: it shows the wolf laying on the ground, still breathing, and the back of Liam Neeson’s head, not moving. Liam could be dead, could be resting. Both could be dying, we don’t really know. All we know is they both put up a good fight.

    Nordling at Ain’t It Cool interprets it to mean that Liam survived, but I didn’t get that.

  27. I had pretty low expectations based on Vern’s and others’ reviews of the film, and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. There were two little bits that really stuck out for me:

    1) When they’re running for the trees and one dude is lagging behind and gets pounced. The others turn and try to run back to save him, and they can barely move at all because they can’t get any footing in the deep snow. Like, they’re attempting this manly rescue rush but all they can do is stagger forward incrementally. It gave me a great feeling of “man, these people are FUCKED.”

    2) When Omega Human chucks the wolf head into the dark, and there’s a silence, and then Alpha Wolf lays down an epic howl, and you don’t see the wolf but you see the steamy breath erupt in the darkness.

    It was a pretty dumb movie, the reasons for which have been well covered by Mr. Vern and the subsequent comments. However the portrayal of the wolves gave me a nostalgic feeling for 90’s films like Kilmer and Douglas versus The Lions (The Ghost and the Darkness), garbage that I was the right age to enjoy the hell out of at the time.

    Also, hopefully they will start ending all Badass Lone Male films with the ambiguity of the lead’s survival, like with this, Drive, and The American.

  28. Just caught this one, and I’m kind of torn on it. I found a lot of the meditations on fear and death to be quite well done, and I liked the dynamic between the characters. I’ve never seen a movie where Dude Who Is Determined To Make Everything Worse By Being An Asshole actually learns his lesson and stops being such a dick. (Oh wait, the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake. But it’s done much better here.) I liked listening to Neeson speak in his own accent for a change (it’s been so long that it actually sounded phony to me at first) and I’m a sucker for any movie where the hero tells God to go fuck himself if He’s not gonna help.

    So as a drama I mostly dug it. But I’ve never seen a movie that’s so determined to piss away its entire reason to exist. The premise of this movie, the concept that got some executive to sign off on its budget, was “Liam Neeson vs. wolves.” Yet the wolves were never convincing and that confrontation never happens. It’d be like FREDDY VS. JASON slam-cutting to credits with the two of them facing each other for the first time. Now, I understand why it ended the way it did. The point isn’t winning, or even surviving. The wolves (metaphorical or otherwise) will keep coming, so all you can do is keep fighting. It’s the exact same way ANGEL ended. The difference is, I got five seasons of seeing Angel fights demons, so not showing the final battle is okay. I never got to see Liam Neeson punch a wolf even once. I know in my heart that Carnahan is well-aware that this is a sight people are interested in seeing. Yet he went with the poetic ending instead of the satisfying one.

    I’m not saying I wanted to see Neeson win in the end. I think the ending is the correct one, thematically speaking. But I don’t think the message of the movie would have suffered to have seen Neeson fight off a couple wolves, suffer some serious injuries, then look up all weary and triumphant and see more wolves closing in. Then you get your cake and eat it too.

    Also, I never want to see another overlit flashback to a not-depressed-yet protagonist rolling around in bed with an ethereal beauty while someone plunks out mournful piano notes. These scenes are becoming as omnipresent to millennial action cinema as training montages were in the 80s, only without any awesome power ballads.

  29. Jareth Cutestory

    June 18th, 2012 at 9:07 am

    So what you’re saying is that these flashback scenes fail to Take Your Breathe Away?

  30. I never even saw the sign for the entrance ramp to the highway to the Danger Zone. If the flashbacks had been set to Dragon Sound’s “Against the Ninja,” though, it would have been a different story.

  31. What if the earlier confrontations with the wolves had actually given some indication of what the hell was going on, then do you think you’d like the ending better, having already gotten some wolf action? Or maybe that would have the reverse effect, because as it is maybe we know subconsciously that if Liam had fought the wolf it would just be some blurry footage of trees anyway, so we’re not missing much.

  32. Yeah, maybe. I just feel that a movie about dudes fighting wolves should have a few wolf fights, you know? It’s not like I didn’t like the movie, more or less, but I just don’t get why you’d bother having this awesome premise if you weren’t ever planning on exploiting it. Subverting audience expectations can be a good thing, but denying them the thing the story has led them to believe they deserve is not, unless the thing you’re giving them instead is even more awesome. And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think “nothing” is a fair tradeoff for “epic wolf battle.”

  33. I didn’t mind the lack of wolf battles, in fact, I had no idea wolves were a part of this movie until I watched it on a whim on Netflix some time ago. To me, this movie rules. It reminded me a lot of Runaway Train, that scene from Jaws, The Hunted, shit like that. I liked that it was a slow burn, and basically a protracted trip to ultimate doom for all characters. There is no escape, and they discuss it at length. I guess this could have been horrible, but everyone seemed to be giving their best to the material, Neeson being the obvious standout. I mean, this dude had dedication to the script. He’s basically giving it as much as he gave Schindler’s List and that is fucking legit.

  34. I think a lot of us will be talking about A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES by the end of this year.


    Damn this looks good.

  35. Scott Frank is a director who had my attention since THE LOOKOUT. Will be looking forward to this one.

  36. The trailer for this won a Golden Trailer Award?? I mean, I guess it did it’s job in getting butts in the seats but man, I can’t think of a trailer that does a movie more of a disservice than this one. (That and the internet always referring to this as the “wolf-punching” movie probably led to so many people being disappointed).

    But anyways, I absolutely loved this movie. Best Carnahan movie by a mile – it has bravura show-offy tricks (that plane crash!) but not at the expense of story or character, and I loved it’s weird combination of unsentimental brutality and sentimental heart-on-it’s-sleeve macho emotions. Plus this movie pulls off the impossible feat of successfully mixing an almost true-life documentary “realism” with a full-blown over the top monster movie.

    You know how Jaws made kids afraid of getting in the tub or sitting on the toilet? I’m a grown-ass man and I will admit this movie made me really uneasy of what may be behind me for a few hours afterwards. There’s something incredibly disturbing about the fact that the wolves were all-watching and seemed to be literally 30 seconds behind the heroes at all times, just waiting for someone to lag behind or rest for a minute, before striking Freddy Krueger style. Btw, I loved how fake the wolves looked for some reason (I also loved the surreal look of the Alien in Alien 3, so maybe I can’t be trusted).

    *SPOILERS* When i say realistic, I’m sure if you were a wolf/nature expert this movie might bother you, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen deaths on film done in this way. If you told me this was a true story I’d probably believe you. This is a movie where nobody really has much of a character arc, nobody learns lessons, people don’t get redeemed. They just get their lives snuffed out suddenly and horribly, in ways frustrating to watch. There’s no rhyme or reason, and there isn’t even a “The Mist” style twist ending saying to never give up hope or hold out for one more minute – it’s basically “life sucks and then you die, just hope to die a little less painfully than the last guy”. I’ve also never seen a movie where someone pleads to God for help and is completely ignored. The filmmakers don’t even throw in a little wink-nudge “maybe God DID hear him!” moment – it’s just straight up “God doesn’t exist, or if he does, he doesn’t care about you”. This is absolutely brutal stuff, and a great reminder that Neeson can be great onscreen when he wants to be.

  37. I watched this back to back with SCHINDLERS LIST recently when I was on my Neeson kick, thanks to how much I loved A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES. And yeah, I agree, no punches pulled in it’s grimness and it’s fuck you refusal to offer any shred of hope that these guys will overcome adversity, unlike other survival movies with the message that ‘the human spirit triumphs over all’ (I couldn’t have watched two totally different movies in one night, and loved both of them equally for different reasons). You could read the post credits ending as one of victory, but the guy is still lost in the wilderness.

    I did think there was some character development – Grillo’s posturing to cover how shit scared he was after the first attacks, until he got a beat down and was able to display some vulnerability. And Neeson’s Ottway opens the movie with one rifle aimed at a charging wolf, and another pointed at his temple, so we already know this guys story in like two scenes of economic filmatism. I thought the flashbacks to his ex wife were superfluous, and distracting from the tone of the film.

    The absence of hope, and Ottways petition and finally, cursing of God, highlights the atheistic view in the film. Ottway tells us early on in narration he and the crew are in the arse end of the world. They work for a company where they are already under daily threat of wolves eating them while they’re trying to do their job – the plane crash and wolf attacks are just putting their fates on fast forward.

  38. Goddamn you guys. Always making me want to revisit movies I’ve already written off.

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