You may think you’re a badass, but until you trek across the Alaskan wilderness with next-to-no supplies while a pack of savage wolves is stalking you, you can go ahead and just sit down.
“The Grey” stars the baddest of badasses, Liam Neeson, in pretty much the same role he played in “Taken” and “Unknown.” The difference here is that instead of punching thugs, he’s punching wolves. This begs the question: Why do we keep putting Chuck Norris on a pedestal when clearly Liam Neeson is the new standard for all things manly?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the film, it’s about an oil-drilling team and their fight for survival after their plane crashes in the northern Alaskan wilderness. As if things aren’t bad enough, shortly after they come to terms with the direness of their situation, the band of survivors encounters a pack of wolves that make their journey home all the more dangerous.
The theme of man versus nature is one of the oldest tropes in literature. Director Joe Carnahan, known for his films “Smokin Aces” and “The A-Team” takes a tenser and more tightly wrought approach to action in this film. It’s not about explosions and spectacle here; it’s about survival.
Carnahan made another film earlier in his career, “Narc” starring Ray Liotta, and with “The Grey,” it’s apparent that that was the film he chose to channel.
“The Grey” could have easily been an action film devoid of characters, laced with placeholders whom we would just be waiting to watch die. Instead we’re given well-developed characters with multiple layers to explore. So when the inevitable comes, and characters start to die, you feel it.
Another underlying theme tackles the question of which group is stronger and more capable of surviving. It’s a pack-versus-pack situation. There are a few moments throughout that really highlight this idea including a howling scene that I won’t spoil for you.
Make no mistake: This is a man’s man-type of film. I recommend making this one part of a guys’ night out. Go out with your friends, enjoy the film and then hit up the bar and debate who among you is more capable of surviving nature. Just don’t actually try to go out and survive in the wild. Stick with your backyard for now.