A group of men find themselves in a horrific survival scenario when their plane crashes in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness, right in the midst of some highly pissed, highly territorial wolves. There you have the plot for 2011′s The Grey, a motion picture that stays with you, and which was marketed horribly – there hasn’t been a single trailer selling this film correctly: while the music cues and the presence of Taken‘s Liam Neeson sell it as an action film, it is in fact an altogether sad, desperate, hopeless, and oddly poetic drama. Savoring the bleak, hopeless ride that is Joe Carnahan‘s latest I wonder to myself – “how did the guy that directed Smoking Aces (2006) and The A-Team (2010) craft this gut-punch of a film whose honor I would fight for?” This is not to ‘dis his past work, but minus Narc (2002), I’ve found Joe to be a little… loud. Well, The Grey is anything but. What action there is is meant to pull at your heart strings, not make you go “fuck, yeah.” In fact it goes out of it’s way to evoke an intimacy which Carnahan maintains through aggressive close-ups, a sense of imminent dread, and a fragmented building of character, so that by journey’s end we know exactly what kind of men these are, and the lives they lead. We are invested in this group of cowards, heroes, fathers, etc. – some of them bad – who find themselves at the ends of the earth, forced to bond together in a common goal of survival. It’s a film that simply does not let up, running these characters through a gauntlet of pain from which there is no relief in sight. Writer/Director Carnahan gets A plus performances from his cast and uses the wolves as a metaphor, not a crutch (i.e. if you think this a film about wolves, think again), bringing details to life like a champion: who knew something as simple as a billfold could drive a narrative so cleverly? And the film has the best “Cussing Out God” scene since Conan The Barbarian. For that alone Joe has my respect. Lead actor Liam is already a presence in the film world, but here he lets it all hang out. Hitting a little close to home with its subject matter (Liam’s wife died in a skiing accident just a few years prior), his performance is easily one of his best yet. If you’ve been following us so far, you know we mainly recommend films – after all, our mantra is ‘what to watch when you’re stranded‘. So yes, I heartily recommend The Grey – it’s a ‘band of brothers’ on their worst journey ever. And it’s the only Joe Carnahan film to ever make me cry. There. I said it.
Before there was Harry Knowles, before thousands of bloggers were clogging the web with opinions, there was Rick Trembles with his unique take on film review. I first came across his art more than 15 [...]