Released in January, at first glance you think this is going to end up being a bad movie. Because previous experience tells you, that January is the dumping month for movies, the month only bad films are released in. But, that is not always the case. And I should have known better being as 'Liam Nelson' stars, and his films are usually always decent. Except for his very forgettable 'Taken 2'. So, due to the very unusual bad weather, I had nothing more to do, then to Netflix the day away. And one of the films I happened to watch was this, 'The Grey'. A film that keeps you glued to the screen until that very heart-clenching final image. Now, onto my review of 'The Grey'.
'The Grey' follows a group of oil men, who become stranded in the middle of Alaska, after their plane crashes, who are forced to adapt and survive the cruel weather, as well as a pack of viscous, gray wolves who stalk the group, helping to pick them off one by one, in a joint effort with the environment.
Together, 'The Grey' is a simple survival movie; it's just the way it is told that keeps you interested. Instead of lingering at one place for a long period of time, 'The Grey' moves at a swift pace, stopping for a breathe every once and a while. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. The pacing slows when it has to, and runs the whole rest of the way with more and more obstacles popping up to try to block the path. And with that, the viewers become intertwined with the characters. You become more and more involved in the story. You sense the urgency, which is presented with the pacing.
Along the way during those times when the film feels it needs to take a breath, you learn more about the characters who are thrusted onto the game board. While it fleshes out the characters, in the end, you really have lackluster feelings about them. While you do become emotionally connected to a few of them, the others, you could care less about, they're just there to build up the body bags, and add up the sense of necessarity for the important, more emotionally connect characters to survive. In the end, as the characters start being pulled out of the game, you feel little to nothing for them, as they end up just being pieces in a puzzle.
However, while the characters are lackluster, the actors try their best to better themselves. 'Liam Nelson' leads the film with veteran ease, quickly becoming necessary for survival, as well as, emotionally connected to him. He played out as the kind of guy you want to lead you, the kind of hard guy with a sad past. The rock. Nelson again proves he has a great ability to lead a film, as well as to make chemistry with his co-stars out of thin air. Of his co-stars 'Frank Grillo' comes to mind, as the scared, aggressive, mean, and sarcastic survivor of the plane crash, who questions Nelson's leadership qualities several times. He has a way of coming off as unlikable, and then turning slowly into a more insecure, sad guy. He plays off well enough and holds his own up until his end. And as for the rest of the cast, well they did decent performances, just not ones I'm willing to take the time to note in particular.
The direction from, 'Joe Caranhan' works well. Coming off of 'The A-Team' he tackles his follow-up, 'The Grey'. And succeeds in creating a fairly good film. He knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it, and the film ended up coming out completely how it might as it would in reality. He knew what angles he wanted to take, and where he wanted his cast and crew to be.
A problem the film has is the editing. Some of it comes out as glitchy, and when you watch the men fight the wolves in a few of the scenes, the shots kind of go too quickly or to slowly, and don't roll out perfectly smooth. Some of the shots come off rough, and not smooth and flowing.
The film does feature of the note music, composed by 'Marc Streitenfeld'. The music fits the scenes, and raises the thrill level. It adds emotional depth when necessary but doesn't go overboard, or get too deep and loud, as most survival movie music tends to go. It underplays the film, coming in slowly, and never getting very loud, but just high enough to help make your heart jump.
Some may agree but others may disagree about the subject of the film's abrupt ending. Our lead ends up face to face with the leader of the pack of wolves, he takes out his knife and they stare down each other, and when he's just about to charge the beast, the film cuts to black. I have to say I was left bewildered by the ending, as I expected the usual, of which he gets saved and bla-bla-bla unoriginal ending. But instead we get this, and the viewer is left to guess the fate of its lead. It's a bit disappointing for someone interested in seeing the lead finally reach some sort of peaceful resolution after so much hardship and suffering, but no. We never know what became of him. If he survived or if he died. Now I have to say it works and doesn't. It seems to conclude the film, but not. The film ducks out of the fight at the last moment, when it could have had a more drawn out conclusion. It is original, and keeps you in, but seems disappointing and lazy as well.
All and all, 'The Grey' works as a solidly built survival movie lead by an impressive performance from 'Liam Nelson, and good pacing and character development, but we all wish the characters were alittle less unlikable and the editing more smooth and clean. B- 3/3/14