When I first sat down to watch "The Grey", I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. The last movie I saw that was directed by Joe Carnahan was "The A-Team" which also had Liam Neeson in a starring role and was one of the best action movies I had seen in quite some time.
The trailer for this movie would lead one to believe that the audience would get to see Mr. Neeson putting a serious beat down on some wolves while struggling to survive an arctic plane crash. Perfect set-up for a kick ass action movie, right? Not exactly.
What Carnahan gives us is a very intense drama that focuses on a small group of oil workers who manage to survive a plane crash, but are then immediately pushed to their limits of survival as they find themselves trapped in the midst a brutally harsh, arctic environment. To top things off, they also find themselves being hunted down by a pack of wolves who are basically looking to protect their hunting ground from what they see as an invading force.
Neeson gives a stellar performance as Ottway who was employed by the oil refinery as a protector of his fellow crewmen and a sort of wolf sniper. The other main characters are played by Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, and Dallas Roberts all of which are as good or better in this movie than I have ever seen any of them before.
What "The Grey" really boils down to is a very well thought out character study of how this group of survivors go from being tough guy, bad asses to learning how to deal with fear and mortality while reluctantly working together for survival. Sure, there are some intense action scenes involving the wolves and other dangers, but the heart of the movie, and what makes it a truly great film, is the interaction between the men and how they each adapt and evolve during the most trying of ordeals.
It really makes you stop and think about how you might react in the same situations while facing the same, seemingly hopeless odds of living to see the next day. At the end of the film, it actually took me a little while to process what I had just watched since I thought I was going to see more of an action adventure, but once I was able to wrap my brain around it, I realized how much I liked the it and wanted to see it again.