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201 of 241 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carnahan's best work to date? Possibly
There were a lot of things that felt like they were kept secret on purpose before sitting down and viewing The Grey for the first time. The trailer hints at the movie being nothing more than a survival thriller starring Liam Neeson as he struggles to survive not only the unrelenting cold elements, but also the ferocious wolves that inhabit his surroundings. The Grey is...
Published on January 26, 2012 by C. Sawin

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137 of 181 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wolf in sheep's clothing
The basic problem of The Grey is the difference between what the filmmakers think they had and what the marketing department wanted to sell. This is promoted as a dramatic survival action movie in the trailers and even Liam Neeson's talk-show circuit tour pushed the same line - a plane crashes and a bunch of guys have to survive things that want to eat them. Kind of...
Published on May 20, 2012 by James Beswick


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201 of 241 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carnahan's best work to date? Possibly, January 26, 2012
This review is from: The Grey (DVD)
There were a lot of things that felt like they were kept secret on purpose before sitting down and viewing The Grey for the first time. The trailer hints at the movie being nothing more than a survival thriller starring Liam Neeson as he struggles to survive not only the unrelenting cold elements, but also the ferocious wolves that inhabit his surroundings. The Grey is written and directed by Joe Carnahan, the man who brought us Smokin' Aces and The A-Team. The movie is also produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, which you think the marketing campaign would jump all over but doesn't even mention. Not only that, but there is quite a bit more to the movie than the trailer and TV spots let on.

As the movie begins, Ottway (Liam Neeson) narrates a letter he's writing to his wife. This segment just made me realize what my life is lacking most right now and that's a Liam Neeson voiceover for every thought that crosses my mind. Think about that. It'd be the most amazing thing ever. The trailer reveals a few major things: that Ottway is stranded in the middle of nowhere in the blistering cold thanks to a plane crash and that wolves stand in the way of him actually surviving this ordeal. The plane crash itself is one of the best executed in recent memory. The way it's filmed and edited is downright ruthless. It's as if you're on the plane as it goes down. The Grey doesn't just place you in this blizzard-ridden hell infested with wolves, it kicks your teeth down your throat, laughs in your face, and throws you into it with everything it has.

The movie gives new meaning to some of the simplest things. Seeing your breath in cold weather takes on an entirely new definition and the way The Grey deals with death just feels incredibly powerful. Ottway questions faith right from the start and takes matters into his own hands throughout the movie. The events that transpire take a toll on even the most religious plane crash survivors. Death is more of a relief than something worth distancing yourself from. Ottway describes it as being a warm sensation and thinking about the thing you love most in life before completely giving yourself into it. Many of the campfire conversations are entirely more impactful than they have any right to be. The conversation about faith in general hits you like a potato sack full of cinder blocks.

The Grey manages to shout its message even when there's nothing being said on-screen. One of the images that stuck with me long after the movie ended was the shot of blood flowing into the paw print of a wolf in the snow. There's a scene by the river that strictly relies on sound and the way you succumb to it is nothing more than brilliant. There's another shot at the end of the film where (and I'm trying to avoid spoilers the best I can) Ottway is arranging some objects in the snow. The way Liam Neeson's fat, sausage-like fingers delicately wrap themselves around these objects and the way his hands tremble as he does this illustrates not only what this man has been through, but also that he's at the end of his rope. Plus the movie will make you want to look over your shoulder the next time you consider relieving yourself out in nature somewhere.

That level of greatness The Grey eventually achieves isn't around at all times. Some lame dialogue does squeak through and characters manage to do really stupid things at times (John Diaz, played by Frank Grillo, especially), but that seems to help the movie more than anything. People, real people, occasionally do stupid things especially when they're scared. So this kind of made the characters feel more genuine and made it very clear that certain characters were caving under pressure.

There was a movie that came out back in 2000 that was called Vertical Limit. It was one of my most trying times at the movie theater. I fought vehemently to leave about halfway through because I hated it so much, but I was with people at the time who wanted to stay until the end. It was probably one of the worst experiences I've ever had to pay for. The Grey is basically everything I wanted that movie to be. The cast is fantastic, their actions are mostly believable, and there's this meaning to everything that really speaks to you.

The Grey is a grainy thriller that knocks the wind out of you on more than one occasion. In fact, it's rare that the movie actually allows you to catch your breath. Everything is such a raw, vicious, and brutal test of faith. It's fantastically violent and Liam Neeson is superb. If The Grey is anything to fall back on, then 2012 is going to be one hell of a year for movies.
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60 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is the meaning of life?, May 7, 2012
By 
Raul Vito (Mexico, DF Mexico) - See all my reviews
Countless philosophers and religions have tried to answer that by actually giving us a set of commandments, rules or viewpoints to actually give meaning to something we simply do not have a straight answer for. In the end, the meaning of life is the meaning we ourselves give to it.
The Grey is all about this, had the writer director for this move have been a fan of normal Hollywood movies with a lollipops for everybody and a happy endings this probably would never have made, and that would have been such a shame.
The basic premise of the movie is pretty simple; a plane crashes in the middle of Alaska and a group of survivors try to make their way into civilization while being hunted by the local wolves. I could talk about the magnificent photography, the brilliant casting of Liam Neason or the stark beauty of the Alaskan landscape, but instead I will focus on what becomes the central point of this movie; when everything seems to be against you, what is it that truly matters to us, what makes us tick and in the end when everything seems to be done, what comfort do we get out of it?
The answer is as varied as the characters of the movie itself, and in a sense some have that quite moment of reflection take away from them by the circumstances, and some others simply have the moment come upon then after everything else seems to be exhausted.
Rarely have I watched a movie and felt this weight upon me, because we might dodge the issue and try to justify the way we have lived and the things we have done, but it is with movies like these that we feel a creeping feeling that we might have take our time for granted or numbed ourselves in our petty little lives surrounded by our petty little machines and toys...but in the end we face the reality of the meaning of our lives...and we might find it lacking, or surprisingly fulfilling ...
Do not watch this movie looking to pass a few fun hours, try to see is for what it is, a masterpiece of modern cinema that dares to make us come face to face with our deepest demons and the way we deal with them in our everyday lives....
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137 of 181 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wolf in sheep's clothing, May 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Grey (Amazon Instant Video)
The basic problem of The Grey is the difference between what the filmmakers think they had and what the marketing department wanted to sell. This is promoted as a dramatic survival action movie in the trailers and even Liam Neeson's talk-show circuit tour pushed the same line - a plane crashes and a bunch of guys have to survive things that want to eat them. Kind of 'Alive' meets Jurassic Park. With Ra's al Ghul.

Unfortunately, it's this difference that's going to disappoint most of the audience. The film starts with Liam's melancholic voice-over (which isn't a good sign) and a fairly dim setup of oil-riggers beating the ever-loving out of each other. We then see Liam shooting a wolf, lamenting the loss of his wife and then putting a rifle in his mouth and contemplating sparing us from another 2 hours of this. And it gets more depressing from there when the trip home ends abruptly in a plane crash.

It's at this point that the film's indecision about what it is becomes a real problem. As an action or survival film, Liam guides his band of survivors in the most irresponsible way possible, making mistake after mistake and fundamentally dooming them all to becoming wolf entree. There are some basic errors, such as a stack of shotgun shells packed with his rifle, and anybody who's familiar with wolf behavior is going to be really unhappy at their depiction in this film. Anyone from Alaska is going to be even more unhappy at the depiction of swimming in rapids too.

Also as an action film, the wolves have a supernatural capability to outsmart the survivors and behave more like Spielberg's raptors than any real life wolf. At one point they jump a ravine and the wolfs are waiting with GPS precision. They pick off our band of survivors one at a time, leaving us with intermittent testosterone-fueled in-fighting to pass as drama. If only Liam hadn't left the crash site, where rescue teams would already have arrived with burgers and cocoa.

But here's the problem - it's not an action film. It's not a survival film either. It's a psychological drama about facing death where the wolves act as furry metaphors for the grim reaper. From the very first scene to the last, Liam Neeson (who's very good as always) emphasizes this theme and it reverberates over and over. And that's where the film could have been quite good and a welcome break from the survival genre but unfortunately it's too late by the time it becomes clear that the wolves' uncanny supernatural sense has a very good explanation.

My guess is that the everyone expecting an action drama is going to be very unhappy, along with animal rights, PETA, Alaskans and oil-riggers. It's a real shame they didn't recut the trailer before the release.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, February 9, 2013
This review is from: The Grey (Amazon Instant Video)
This movie could have benefitted from several consultants. I fly medevac planes over all of Alaska, and I will give you my top ten reasons why this movie isn't worth the plastic box it comes in...

1. The north slope has no mountains, or trees... and wolves only when the Caribou are migrating through, which doesn't happen in winter. No one hires wolf snipers to protect oil workers.
2. The first trees they come to (after leaving the slope) are huge conifers. You have to fly over about 200 miles of tiny black spruce to get to any large trees. Then to a canyon? with a river with running water in winter?? Spring in the Bob Marshal wilderness in Montana maybe... but not up here. Sorry.
3. Liam just walks out of the river, and keeps on keeping on. His clothes are dry in a few minutes. Liam, Liam, Liam. You need a fire.
4. When the impossible 85 foot long jump has occurred, everyone decides to go across the contrivance feet first. When you survive YOUR wolf saga, go head first. It works better.
5. Spend some time around oil roughnecks. They are not soft voiced touchy feeling sorts. The river scene when the biggest jerk of them all gets sort of tired and gives up is overdone. Reality? I would have stabbed him in the brainstem a couple of days earlier when he started to ruin morale. There is also a scene whereupon these "toughened brawlers" are getting grossed out by (the biggest jerk) by him decapitating a wolf that they have killed and cooked as a statement.
6. You don't outrun wolves. Neither do you hear them crashing about in the woods.
7. The Alpha wolf looks just about like the Wolf from "Fantastic Mr. Fox"; and sounds like a mother elephant urging her young toward the next watering hole. What... real wolves aren't scary enough? If you can afford Liam, you can afford some better special effects.
8. Liam pets the first wolf dispatched, with his hunting rifle, while sort of weepy, until it is dead. If a wolf is breathing after you have shot it with a deer rifle, you shouldn't pet it. I think it is just taking a nap.
9. Why beat the black guy in the chest sorrowfully after he is dead? They weren't close when they were alive... and a luckily placed precordial thump only works if you do it once... and not when you have died from Hypoxia... only when you are in active V-tach.
10. I could care less about any of the characters. Apparently Liam has a beautiful wife/SO somewhere, who left him. If you get to have a chance with a beautiful woman who wants to hold you and stroke your face on clean white linens, you don't say to her "my Irish blood can't stand it here... I have to go be a wolf sniper on the north slope-" You say "baby, should I make you an omelette"? and then you let her decide what to watch on TV. Forever.

as a bonus, #11: the best last stand you can contrive is with some broken glass knuckles and a knife? Read Jack London. Clubs work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, September 23, 2013
This review is from: The Grey (Amazon Instant Video)
THe sad thing is that the first 20 minutes or so seriously grab you. I sat back to watch a great survival story But less than half way through the movie, it became a drama about the surety and hopelessness of death. Then it became boring, with tedious dialogue about the only thing that exists is the air in your lungs. Hollywood folks must live a tragic life.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars depressing, June 29, 2013
This review is from: The Grey (Amazon Instant Video)
I was able to keep up with the director's editing; he succeeded in surprising us about Liam's wife. But as one person after another was killed off, and I hoped that the next one wouldn't die, it became depressing. The on-location background enhanced the feeling, with the grays of winter, and the film had a slightly grainy look to it. It wasn't until Liam was alone and staring down the wolves that I knew HE wouldn't live either. It was a rip-off; I recalled a short story I'd read many years ago with the same plot, and it ended the same, with the main character getting killed by the wolves, after a Herculean effort to survive. PETA was probably the only ones to enjoy this movie.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Jaws + Wolves + Snow - Shark - Plot = The Grey, May 27, 2012
This review is from: The Grey (DVD)
A completely unrealistic movie about people jumping off mountains and fighting wild beasts (beasts that have very little resemblance to actual animals here on planet earth). Putting aside how unrealistic this film is (there's enough commentary out there about that) there still isn't even a real story here. Do the characters survive? More importantly, who cares?

I'm surprised this movie gets as many stars as it does here. The absurdity of the film is a major let down. I didn't come in to this expecting an unrealistic alien action flick or something, I was looking for a survival nature film with a plot (and some action). I could forgive a little artistic license but this strays way too far from reality to be forgivable. Wolves don't attack people for fun (they attack for food and they seldom attack humans) and they don't attack prey alone just to "test" them. Also people get hypothermia in the conditions these characters were in (especially when they don't create shelters and jump in running rivers) and no one in their right mind is going to leap off a mountain in these conditions (or any conditions for that matter). The crash, coldness, desolation or fear aspects of this film were never properly explored. Even basic survival stuff like creating fires and finding food is skipped over. They actually continued hiking in the dead of night at one point which seemed absurd to me personally. Basically this movie is just "our plane crashed so um, let's go run around and fight wolves or something".

The other major let-down in this movie is lack of plot or proper character development. We never really find out in any depth who these people are or what motivates them to survive. The two characters we do get some exploration on are apparently miserable people who have nothing to live for anyway. As the movie goes on you'll ask yourself: will these characters survive? Half way through I concluded that I don't care. I actually ended up rooting for the wolves towards the end.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It is a story of survival ..., December 26, 2012
This review is from: The Grey (DVD)
... of a viewer of this extremely boring and stupid movie. My god, I was with the wolves - please eat them faster, please, please! All in vain, wolves were patiently waiting while people were admiring the nature and reflecting on their wasted opportunities!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate, Improbable, and Stupid, November 5, 2012
This review is from: The Grey (Amazon Instant Video)
Unless you want to create a world where genetically altered wolves are attacking and killing humans, then this film might get two stars from me. I'd give it zero stars for the absurd premise and insane idea that wolves hunt and kill humans.

Note to director dude: You should at least research basic animal behavior before creating such a travesty about wolves. Inaccurate, untruthful fantasy. DIf you want to create fantasy then give the wolves some kind of super power, some genetically altered disease. It would then be somewhat believable.

For suspension of disbelief, needed for any film, this one doesn't have it. There is only one good scene in this movie and that is when the first character dies with the guidance of Liam Neeson.

This hungry pack of wolves in the Arctic are fat and plump and kill humans at their whim. In fact for some strange reason, this pack has the leisure time in the depth of winter to forgo their own survival need of searching for food, carrying for their young to marshal hundreds of wolves, it seems, to track, terrorize and kill the humans.

As improbably as that is, there is more. These wolves are the fattest, plumpest wolves on earth, meaty as if they dinned at Claim Jumper take out for lunch and dinner each day.

As fat as these improbably wolves are, there's more. They are bent on killing human, going out of their way to do it.

But, the fact is, there isn't a single confirmed death by a wolf or wolf pack ever. By rabis, yes, but never by a pack of wolves, and never in the manner depicted in this move. At most wolves might get assertive when cornered or when defending a kill. But hunting down and killing 7 humans. Uhhhh. NOOO.

Wikipedia: A wolf attack is an attack on a human by a wolf or wolves. Wild wolves are generally timid around humans. Wolves usually try to avoid contact with people, to the point of even abandoning their kills when an approaching human is detected, but there are several reported circumstances in which wolves have been recorded to act aggressively toward humans.

Compared to other carnivorous mammals known to attack humans in general, the frequency with which wolves have been recorded to kill or prey on people is much lower, indicating that though potentially dangerous, wolves are among the least threatening for their size and predatory potential.[1]

[...]
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51 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grey- A brilliant survival story- Devastating, January 31, 2012
Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live and die on this day.
Live and die on this day.

And with these words, the Grey becomes in my mind, the greatest film of its generation in this genre, although I am not quite sure what exact genre that is.

I saw the Grey 4 days ago, on the big screen, and it has not left my mind since. It is, by far, the best film I have seen in a very long time. It is truly, as Mr. Neeson puts it, about "Men, unfit for mankind" against mother nature in all of her absolute fury, but most of all it is a pulse pounding and riveting exploration of loss and real courage, and faith, and how real men face almost insurmountable odds, and how men, in the worst of circumstances treat and regard their fellow man. I was devastated by "the Grey" in all of its ferocious and poetic power.

First, the acting was astounding. From Mr. Liam Neeson (who is in my mind a bona fide action star with incredible acting ability) to Frank Grillo, and Dermot Mulrooney, and the rest of the cast, the acting was the best I have seen in ages. The acting seemed so natural, and truly imitated the way real people, especially men, actually relate to each other. it is probably the first time I have ever actually seen it captured so well and naturally on film.

The cinematography, and the story were excellent. The movie is grim, ultra violent, dark, but it is also an incredibly deft and soul wrenching journey into what it means to be a man and have real courage in the face of almost certain death? It asks, how would I treat my fellow man in the worst hell the cosmos can conjure up? The Grey is also a film about and of faith, and of loss, and not just the loss that is depicted on film, but the silent loss and pain that so many men (maybe all men) have and go through in their lives and carry with them (whether it be self destructive in origin, or bad luck, or loss of loved ones, or what ever form it takes). The Grey is brilliant on both a physical and metaphorical level.

Truthfully, I was devastated by this film, and any time a character died, I felt each death so intensely (I looked around and there were grown men in the theater sobbing silently). Anytime a character revealed himself, in terms of his life and his view/faith, his own loss, I was transfixed. Some of these characters were seemingly rotten scoundrels, but ultimately I grew to give a damn about them, and their plight, and that. in my opinion, is the brilliance of "the Grey". These men were revealed ultimately to be not scoundrels who were at their core bad men, but men, who had made too many mistakes, like so many of us, and just couldn't get their lives kick started out of the hurricane that consumes so many lost souls. As a man viewing this, it struck me as an incredibly deep study of the true heart of man. I felt that any one of these fellows could have been me or one of my friends out there. I did not want in any moment, for any one of these characters to die. I said to myself, I am watching a movie, a work of fiction, but am reacting like what was on screen was something real. It felt that way to me. And I can give "the Grey" no greater praise. For example, when I learned towards the end, why Liam Neeson was so pained in his soul, it had a huge emotional impact on me. A real and quiet impact. I said to myself, this is the way that I would be if I experienced this, I think, although who can know until you go through something like that.

Other reviewers here have briefly summarized the plot far better than I could, and I would say that on its surface it is an extremely well told survival tale... extremely intense and violent, with 7 men trying to escape a ravenous pack of wolves hell bent on punishing them physically and metaphorically, but what is interesting is that the rest of mother nature nature was just as, if not more, brutal towards these souls as the wolves were. It is almost as if the wolves could have been an afterthought to mother nature's fury and rage.

For me, the Grey was not just a film, but an experience. If you are a deep thinking man or person, I believe that The Grey will be an experience for you to savor. It is also a hell of an exciting movie, but I was so plugged in, that the excitement was just an after thought for me against the emotional intensity of this cinematic masterpiece. Joe Carnahan, Liam Neeson, and all of you who made this happen, I say bravo to you, and tip my cup and hat to the masterpiece you have put on the screen. Thank you. Thank you.

I have read some reviewers complaining about the ending, and I have to say to them, "Are you kidding me?" It is the right ending. Make sure you stay till the end of the credits and you will learn what happened. Anyone who doesn't like the ending, I truly believe misses the point... of what the Grey is saying. thank you for reading.

P.S. I am absolutely interested in hearing other people's thoughts. Feel free to send me some comments.
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The Grey
The Grey by Joe Carnahan (DVD - 2012)
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