Liam Neeson stars as John Ottway, a survivor of a plane crash in Alaska who leads a small group of fellow oil rig workers through harrowing wilderness against packs of vicious wolves.
Film making 15/25
Bonus Features 5/25
I don’t care for movies that portray wild animals as vicious or ruthless and The Grey does just that with a vengeance. Wolves generally are pack hunters and will defend their den against a bear or other predator such as humans but will leave a group of humans alone most of the time.
I am a nature lover at heart and even taught classes at Boy Scout summer camp as well as a campground in Illinois and love watching nature films. Their portrayal in The Grey is nothing short of fictitious and not even close to the real thing so with that being said I will move on to the film.
The Grey is an interesting man versus wild film about a group of oil field workers from Alaska that eventually are led along a possible escape route to civilization by John Ottway. Ottway is a hunter and protected the oil workers from wildlife while in the field by killing wolves that would attack the workers.
Ottway starts the film off by attempting to kill himself because his wife left him but he can’t do it so he ends up leaving the oil fields when his contract is up. The group of forty or so on the flight are quickly reduced to about eight during the crash due to a storm that overtakes the plane on its trip.
Ottway tells the others they should leave the crash site after wolves attack and kill off another passenger so they head off into the snow storm toward distant trees. The group is slowly picked off one by one by the wolves and nature but it’s the wolves they are constantly running from.
Eventually exhaustion, wounds and the wolves take each of the survivors out until the abrupt ending where the pack fights with a lone Ottway. Ottway leads the group away from the crash site in the beginning by saying the pack is probably defending their den but once away from the site it should have left them alone.
The wolf pack continue to chase down the dwindling group but shouldn’t if for no other reason than the thirty or so bodies they could snack on. It’s this incessant, werewolf like behavior that just turned me off to the whole movie and made the entire film such a disappointment.
Liam Neeson gives a good performance and the direction by Joe Carnahan is very good but they did not have to give the wolves such a huge evil presence in the film. If the movie had stayed with nature herself killing off the survivors one by one instead of just the wolf pack it would have been much more palatable.
The Grey received a lot of negative attention from the ASPCA and other animal loving groups and the main reason is the terrible portrayals of the wolves the film gives them. Real packs of wild wolves will rarely attack humans and will mostly stay away from them unless extreme starvation or possible intrusion occurs.
Like all wild animals people should be wary of wolves but they do not normally act like their portrayal in The Grey shows and I just could not get away from this fact. The film just does an overboard job of showing the wolves as almost monster like and much larger than real life wolves that it was a bit distracting.
The Grey is shot in film and encoded to digital Blu-ray with a great looking realism and quality that does the films natural scenery justice. Colors are crisp and sharp and only the wolves themselves really show off what can be done with a mix of filming techniques and technologies.
The wolves are a sickly lot that look terrible and menacing with an unclear view most of the time to help give a generally terrifying feel to them. Many scenes they quickly enter the scene and are in constant motion so we see very little of them which helps the overall feeling the film makers wanted.
Video is great and except for the werewolf like wolves the film looks very good which gives a great feeling of being lost to the overall plot. Audio is also great with good use of surround and a general actually being there feeling from the sound field which makes the film that much more dramatic.
Extras on the Blu-ray disc are light with deleted scenes and a commentary with the co-writer and director Joe Carnahan, editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellman. I was very surprised to not see any other features from a film that could have had a lot more going for it on the idea of bashing wolves from the beginning of the survivors trek to civilization.
Some bonus content about the wolves’ recent rise from possible extinction would have been welcome but the creators and company are probably sore on the subject. The Grey just did not include enough bonus features and the one that is here is the typical commentary applauding the film, cast and crew that we almost always see.
The Grey is a good enough film but disturbing when you take a look at how people view nature and wild animals but rest assured that wolf attacks do not happen nearly as often as you may think. The Grey is a good movie and well worth a viewing but also look at the real world of wolves at sites like National Geographic and World Wildlife Federation.
The Grey Website
National Geographic site on wolves
World Wildlife Federation site on wolves