**WARNING SPOILER ALERT
THE IMMEDIATE EFFECT
The momentum of watching Liam Neeson duke it out with wolves in the Alaskan wilderness gave such a surge in me that when a cockroach dared to peer its creepy little antennas out my kitchen cabinet, I knew…it was either him or me!
I would not go down, not after what I had just experienced…
ACTING IN TRUTH THE NEESON WAY
the Fiercely honest and deeply moving , Liam Neeson captures his audience once again as John Ottway, his latest character in the recently released film “The Grey“.
His solid approach brings subtle reminders of all his great work. Mainly, Schindler’s List. Picture one of the last scenes when we see Oskar Schindler break down by his fancy car, wishing he could’ve sold more of his things to save more Jews.
In “The Grey” you immediately hope a guy like him flies with you if your plane falls from the sky. Or at worst, if your plane falls, you hope to suddenly discover an equal primal instinct to survive.
I don’t trust the general audience members to appreciate the full gamut of this tale written by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers and directed by Joe Carnahan. Primarily because of the unconventional ending. It’s a bold move by its creators that seems to say…
“this movie is more about John Ottway’s loss and gain, than his fight with a wolf.”
Although the current Box Office Standings show “the Grey” on top, we’ll see once word gets out of the details of its ending, if the masses will continue to flock in to see John Ottway lead 7 seven plane crash survivors away from the animals he was hired to kill.
Will see how it holds out now with three big movies releasing for Super Bowl weekend: “Woman in Black”, “Chronicle”, “and “Big Miracle”
Hopefully by now the recommendation to stay after the credits has made the rounds and most movie-goers are getting the full grasp of the climactic ending.
Based off his short story Jeffers also co-wrote the screenplay taken to a real and raw level by Carnahan, Neeson and a stellar cast.
IMAGES OF LIFE, TRAUMA AND DEATH
The shots of the plane crash and of reality interrupting John Ottway’s recurring memory of his wife literally take your breath away. It feels like it pulls you in. You get the sense of losing the ability to breathe as you race to the ground at crazy miles per hour.
We see, before and after the crash, how the broken eyes of Mr. Neeson connect John Ottway’s tragic life to the very pulse that keeps us alive. The pulse we feel racing as we watch from the warm movie theater.
The contrasting images of his sniper rifle in his mouth, ready to check in and meet his maker to the unrelenting determination in his eyes as he eases passage into death for one of the men that almost survived the crash.
The circle of men around the fire recalling on their faith, their lack of faith and their family, as they finally find a way to rest.
ACTING HONORABLE MENTION
I dare say, Liam Neeson would agree:
All the men cast in this motion picture gave their very best, no one made safe choices. Grant it, working in real snow sure did help, but the scene around the fire gives insight to the many levels of humanity within the insanity of fleeing from ferociously ticked off wolves!
My other favorite after Liam Neeson:
Frank Grillo as your “black sheep” type character in Diaz duels within the group with the unofficial leader, Neeson’s, Ottway. His choices are specific and without hesitation. A polished and intense actor I’ve never heard of.
Dermot Mulroney, his challenge to Ottway on faith and his anecdote of his little girl and how she’d wake him up…man…it hit me…every word struck a chord! So much I had to blink away a sudden build up of moisture in my eyes…
The others hold their ground with memorable performances until they bow out with gruesome style at the mercy of the creatures gnawing at their very footprints.
THE BEST “MAN -VS- NATURE” FILM YET
The last good man vs nature movie I can recall as one to impact me on various levels was Disney’s Brother Bear… Evidence of my “Cool Dad” status no doubt!
But then there’s also the Edge and the Perfect Storm. But this one had a primal dynamic tapping into the individual instinct to survive.
It speaks volumes on the levels of a man, his heart and his ultimate purpose in the moment of adversity.
So for women, don’t shy away from the scary howls of the killing beasts! It’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the psyche of men in the wilderness. Man, against a foe that threatens him beyond selfishness and pushes him deep within to know himself more. The wild pulls and burglarizes even his romantic soul.
CAUTION: What I did not like:
The sound of the wolves…the slight overkill on the growling from the dark. For a film that offers a bit of nature’s rawness, I had a hard time believing wolves would carry on as if rabid dogs slowly morphing into 700 pound beasts much like the ones from the Underworld films.
“WHAT’s UP WITH THE ENDING?!”
Surely the preview showing Liam Neeson facing off with a wolf drew you in as it did me right?
I actually liked the ending, although I would’ve loved it if they actually showed Ottway gutting it out with the Alpha Wolf.
Well, the scene at its core carries a high sentimental value to us who dare feel the full spectrum of emotions of the ultimate doom that befalls our hero.
The face off, Ottway and the Alpha Wolf…
It gives a hint of the coming of age feel from Zack Snyder’s 300, a sort of life changing ritual thrusting us into a new sense of manhood
and while it’s ultimately a violent death that awaits Ottway…
it reconnects us with the moments in the film drenched with subtle details of life
of marriage and fatherhood…
brotherhood and manhood…
this film struck the right chords to make a lasting impact on my view on the simplicities of my life.
POETRY AND GOD
The poem of life and death, written by Ottway’s silent father stayed with him to the very end. Such is the influence a father has on his young boy..
(a young boy who one day has to face the beasts of life.)
“to live or die on this day…”
to die by suicide or by gutting it out with a fierce beast craving your blood…?
I’d take on the beast with my knuckles braced with shards of glass and a bitter cold knife any day!
I’ve heard it said, “You want to feel God, go into nature”
The scream to the heavens seemingly not heard, by Ottway flew beyond the trees and into my wild beating drum. It stunned me a bit and I too wondered,
“will God answer?”
God heard him, He just didn’t get the reply he wanted…or was it?
After all Ottway in the beginning sought death. Perhaps to join his beloved
…the kind of glory Maximus (Russell Crowe) fought for in Gladiator
Does God give us what we want or what we need, or both?
In the sudden lonely state, Ottway calls out to God enraged and unknowingly ends up in the den of wolves. Here a bridge unites him to John Diaz, who laid to die with nothing left to survive….
Faith and fury collide and if you stayed after the credits then you find
Ottway may still be alive…and what if he killed the Alpha Wolf…?
hmm who knows….
Or maybe he found death but with a FIGHT…
What’s your take on it?
In all, I recommend this film with all my might.
In the words of Ottway’s wife,
“Don’t be afraid”
I say, know your enemy, and take on the beast with all you got, who knows, you just might live into a paradise unknown…
- ‘The Grey’ Review: Faith and Death in a Frozen Hell (slashfilm.com)
- The Blues and The Grey (theschleicherspin.com)
- The Grey (creedsdelight.com)
- Liam Neeson’s ‘The Grey’ is a mostly satisfying action film (csmonitor.com)
- Normal Movie Review: The Grey (daysofdocs.com)
- Liam’s thrown to the wolves in predictable action thriller – Belfast Telegraph (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- The Grey (boston.com)
- Review: ‘The Grey’ (mercurynews.com)