Liam Neeson vs. wolves. If you’re not hooked already, you’re not likely to be. If you are, you might be in for more than you expect.
“The Grey” isn’t interested in being a complicated or terribly nuanced movie. It is interested in doing one thing, and doing it (passably) well: pitting man against beast, and following that where it goes. It’s a lot like Jack London’s best work: you can view it as nothing more than a wilderness adventure story and be done with it, or you can see it as a launchpad into reflection about man’s primal nature. Are we that different from the wolves? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean to be alive anyway – does it mean to struggle and fight? (See? it gets deep quick. Especially if you are sitting shirtless and sweaty around a campfire.)
Neeson is a sharpshooter/wolf expert working on an Alaskan oil rig. On his way home, the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere, and six or eight guys have to figure out how to stay alive without eating each other and find a way to civilization. To make matters worse (and much more cinematically interesting,) they’ve crashed into wolf territory, and the wolves see them as a threat.
Things proceed pretty much as you’d expect (hint: don’t get too attached to anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with Shliem Peeson) but it how it’s all handled that matters. “The Grey” is remarkably spare and tight. Neeson talks about wolves and he talks about survival, in that distinctive brogue of his. Some of the other guys bitch and moan a bit, but not for long. Pretty soon, it’s just Neeson and the wolves. I’ll let you see who wins.
Verdict: Recommended if you’re looking for some Guys Night material. (On the other hand, you could be watching the game.) Too bad there’s no manly way to take a DVD player camping.