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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » April 26, 2012
Film review
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The Grey
April 26, 2012   
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A group of people with absolutely no survival training struggle for their lives in the middle of nowhere, confronted with the forces of nature. Some will make it, others won’t. The ordeal exposes conflicts, tempers are put to the test, and the characters are haunted by demons from their past. The latest addition to the long list of movies based on this standard storyline is The Grey by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team).

After working grueling shifts, 125 oil workers are heading home for a two-week vacation when their plane crashes in a remote corner of Alaska untouched by humans. The crash kills everyone on board except for eight survivors who desperately seek their way back to civilization. Their chances are slim, given that they lack the clothing, weapons and willpower to face what comes their way. The group’s only asset is Ottway (Liam Neeson), a mysterious hunter and security guard whom the oil company hired to scare off wild animals bothering the workers. Ottway is no stranger to the Alaskan wilderness, but—and it’s a big but—he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown after his wife died. He might have even crossed the line, as he writes a suicide note, deciding there’s not much point carrying on. Haunted by visions of his dead wife, he’s living in the past. Meanwhile, the survivors are carefully watched by a pack of wolves which clearly consider the humans as intruders in their primeval land.

The Grey is predominantly a one-man show. Neeson, who turns 60 this year, earned his reputation as an A-list actor starring in such serious pictures as Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg, The Mission by Roland Joffe, and Michael Collins by Neil Jordan. Recently, however, he has been increasingly keen to accept roles in straight action movies and he’s been doing remarkably well in these. As a villain in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, he made life a misery for the main character. In Taken by Pierre Morel, he single-handedly crushed an Albanian gang kidnapping young women in Paris. The bandits had it coming—he explicitly told them to stay away from his daughter. A sequel has been announced for next year. Finally, in Unknown by Jaume Collet-Serra, Neeson’s character was on a quest to regain his memory and identity, displaying a knack for mutilating hostile strangers in an unfriendly Berlin. This time, he is as convincing as a man on the edge who finds the will to act when pushed to the extreme. Neeson oozes the kind of charisma that puts other action movie stars to shame. His role in The Grey is what makes a visit to a movie theater worthwhile, along with the views of Alaskan landscapes beautifully shot by Masanobu Takayanagi (Babel, State of Play).

These strong points were appreciated by audiences. The movie, which cost $25 million to make, raked in 80 percent of that amount on the opening weekend. In total, The Grey has made almost $53 million at the U.S. box office alone.
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