The Grey

Art & Culture

Not so much Dances With Wolves as "Oh God, there's wolves everywhere, and they're trying to kill us!' – which I agree is not a very snappy title, but possibly better than The Grey, which conveys absolutely nothing at all.
The reason to see this film is Liam Neeson. This is almost certainly his best performance of 2012, and if you ask me how I know that in January, let me draw your attention to the other 4 films he appears in this year: Wrath Of The Titans, Battleship, Dark Knight Rises, and a sequel to Taken. I rest my case.

Neeson plays a lone wolf of a guy, who has constant flashbacks to a sunny day under the sheets with his missus, who is missing, presumed terminal. His job is to shoot the wolves that threaten the lives of workers on the pipeline in Alaska, and occasionally contemplate the desirability of putting a gun in his moth and ending the misery. Not a happy bunny.

When the plane in which he and his fellow workers crashes in the middle of a very snowy nowhere, leaving only a few of them alive, he takes charge, and the others are (mostly) only too happy to follow, once they realise that they are surrounded by wolves (another possibility for a title). From there on, it's man against wolf, and let's face it, it's rather like mice against sharks (if mice could swim, of course).

Words like elemental spring to mind, since it snows pretty much constantly, and they're a million miles from civilisation, with no weapons, nothing to eat, and only those useful sticks you find in films which burn brightly when you carry them round at night. I find they usually blow out straight away. There are elements of a number of different films and genres here. There's a bit of Alive (the plane crash is impressive); there's the dwindling platoon a la Saving Private Ryan, and then there's a whole bunch of Jack London's Call Of The Wild (a book, not a film).

I quite enjoyed it, especially an unexpectedly tender scene just after the plane crash as a man dies. But I'm at a loss to know who is going to go and see it, or even who it was made for. As I say, the title is a no no, and the subject matter hardly user friendly. Man in snow fights wolves is not exactly a catchy selling point, so you come back to Liam, aged 60 this year, looking grizzled and tough and indomitable. Is he enough to drag punters into the multiplex? Somehow I doubt it.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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