In Alaska, a team of oil workers board a flight home; however, they cross a storm and the airplane crashes. Only seven workers survive in the wilderness and John Ottway, who is a huntsman that kills wolves to protect the workers, assumes leadership of the group. Shortly after they learn that they are surrounded by a pack of wolves and Ottway advises that they should seek protection in the woods. But while they walk through the heavy snow, they are chased and attacked by the carnivorous mammals. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
According to actor Liam Neeson's account, the temperatures were as low as -40°C in Smithers (British Columbia) where the film was shot. The snow storms/scenes were actual prevailing weather conditions and not a cinematic illusion produced with CGI trickery (interview: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.70 (2012)). The cast wore thermals under their costumes for additional protection. See more »
After the plane crash Ottway is seen covered in snow, but when he gets to the plane to see the survivors there is almost no snow on his sweater. See more »
A job at the end of the world. A salaried killer for a big petroleum company. I don't know why I did half the things I've done, but I know this is where I belong, surrounded by my own. Ex-cons, fugitives, drifters, assholes. Men unfit for mankind.
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Intensely masculine survival film that strains to be more than that
The Grey (2011)
At first, after the plane crash, it seems that it's the cold that's going to win. It's really cold, and it seems there are no trees in sight, nothing but snow. But then the wolves move in and the name of the movie makes sense (it's not called "White"). If you expect a battle between five or so men and a large pack of wolves to be at all elevated or if there is meant to be a holy understanding between species, think again. This isn't "Dances with Wolves." This is meant to be the closest thing to the real deal as possible. The coughing, limping, crying, shouting men who were once so utterly fit and tough is as real as you might expect. And their rising up with truly masculine strength against the elements and the wolves is sometimes impressive.
This is quite the manly man movie that has a weird amount of controversy around it, some of it seeming to be a little forced (maybe to increase ticket and DVD sales). Even the wikipedia entry seems loaded, as if people have it out for the movie. And at the bottom of it all is the fact that this is a simple survival film, and when you're in the Alaskan freezer box with wolves all around you, survival gets ugly.
And sometimes a little redundant. I mean, the cold, the hunger, the fear, the rivalry between them men, and yes the so-called philosophizing are all intense and important. Over a two hour period, even as you're hanging in there through the violence, you want something more. It could be another layer to the plot, though I don't know what (these few tough oilmen are extremely isolated). Or it could have elements of psychology and, maybe (maybe) philosophy that take us further down some path beyond the practical aspects of survival.
It makes sense that these men find their working-class language to face death and whatever follows death. The simple idea shared by at least two of them that there is no afterlife is fair enough, and they are realistic enough to consider the possibility that this is all we have, here and now. And it doesn't mean the viewer has to agree. To call this a movie with "atheistic themes" is delusional. If you want to face a death without an afterlife in a truly harrowing and amazing movie, see "Wit," which is as far from this one as possible.
As for the animal cruelty, I think the only way around that would be to shoot a different movie. I mean, you might ask whether we need a movie about men fighting wolves for survival. But then, why not? It's not up to us--except in choosing to see it or not.
And I saw this. Liam Neeson is I think a perfect leading man, older, still tough as nails and a smart, hardened adversary to the crushing challenges around. The remaining cast is kind of the expected range of men. Their interactions are solid but veer into clichéd personality conflicts and clichéd intimacies.
The problem really is, over and over, that the core of this movie is all there is. It's about the adventure of pushing to your limits. And picturing yourself in their shoes. In fact it's so well made, with stunningly clear photography, you practically cringe and shiver and groan with them. The characters (and the actors, it would seem) are more physically challenged than made to be resourceful. In a way, it reminded me of "Touching the Void" where a pair of mountain climbers likewise had to find their physical limits to survive.
See this? I'm not sure. You'll know if you like this kind of film and all the shaking camera and blood and suffering. I know I wanted more of something else to go along with what is so vividly achieved.
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