English Title: Ottway.
Production: USA, 2012.
Release Dates: 11.01.2012 (USA), 27.01.2012 (Worldwide).
Russian Distributor: UPI (26.01.2012).
Genres: Drama / Survival / Thriller.
Director: Joe Carnahan.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts.
Running Time: 117 minutes.
Lost in Alaska
On January 27, 2012 the movie entitled The Grey (2012), review of which we are publishing today, opens worldwide in theaters. It is a new American survival drama starring Liam Neeson. Read on to find it being compared to other similar motion pictures.
Nature can not only be a human friend, but also a dangerous enemy. Stories about struggling for life against it show how a character’s behaviour can vary depending on the surrounding circumstances. Many of such films reached their niche audience. Amongst notable releases here we could name Alive (1993) or Touching the Void (2003) movies, as well as a sensational drama – 127 Hours (2010), which collected three nominations for the Golden Globe Awards and six more for The Oscars. All these stories about climbers in distress, suffering tourists and passengers in the wild differ from those that fall into the Horror movies category.
The latter one already features some people or fictional creatures as a main threat to the heroes, but here we will again be talking about natural danges, which every traveler could encounter. One of the last moderately successful attempts to become such a thriller movie happened with Frozen (2010). Like the film we are reviewing today, it featured a lot of snow, a company of hungry wolves and a difficult situation for the main characters fighting for their lives. Fairly positive critical reviews for this low-cost title showed that a good script can substitute all the unnecessary promotional costs.
The Grey is an upcoming movie, which was produced by a tandem of brothers Tony and Ridley Scott. These famous British filmmakers have released dozens of popular blockbusters to the theaters in the last decade. However, in this case they had to manage a much more tiny creative process chamber, because the budget of this thriller reached only around 34 mln. USD, while, for example, Robin Hood (2010) directed by Ridley Scott cost around 155 mln. USD.
The american Director of the new film is Joe Carnahan. He held the same role, when Smokin’ Aces (2007) and The A-Team (2010) were being created. He is also known as an actor of small roles, producer and screenwriter, who prepared the story for the sequel – Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball (2009). Unfortunately, the producers of The A-Team are still not ready to finance the sequel, so Joe Carnahan moved on to other projects.
For his new work, The Grey, he used the short story named Ghost Walker and written by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers. Not only the original author, but also Carnahan himself contributed to the adaptation of this novel for the big screen.
Snow-covered Dangers lie ahead
A Hunter hunted
The filming of The Grey took place in the area of British Columbia, in Canada, although the site of action in the plot denotes Alaska. Snow-covered mountains, forests, snow storms, large open fields, strong winds, narrow rivers and streams served as a good entourage for the new thriller. In it you will be told a story of the main lonely character, which was brought to life by Liam Neeson. He plays a hunter named Ottway, who is working for one oil company protect its employees from the threat of wild animals, particularly, wolves. His usual duties include watching and shooting them from far away with a scoped rifle.
Although the film begins with a suicide attempt by Ottway, the motives of his actions are unveiled only at the very end, and even there you can sit through all the rolling credits to uncover a hidden episode. Alongside the main plot, Ottway’s memory often gets back to his past, when he was still a child listening to his father’s wisdom. This time Liam Neeson got an incredibly difficult role presenting the man, who has lost just enough to see no future in living further, but still finds a reason to live for the sake of saving others.
Once aboard a plane filled with oil company workers, he is flying to somewhere, probably, to another facility. However, in the zone of turbulence, his flight crashed on the frozen land of Alaska. Few survived, and as it turned out later, it’d be unwise to call them lucky. They happened to be right in the midst of a hunting ground inhabited by a wolven pack, led by a black alpha male. The snow abyss, the freezing temperature and even the huge pitfalls also endanger the survivors. Soon they will realize that only Ottway has all the required survival skills to deserve the right to lead this group to safety guiding them to the closest human settlement.
Though the company itself leaves much to be desired for him. Workers of oil rigs show their temper, recklessness and the inability to avoid natural threats. You won’t find many famous names in the cast. Coupled with simple dialogues it led to a lack of memorable supporting characters. In the process of their exhausting march through the fields, forests and river banks each of the survivors will have to answer, whether he has enough will to reach home.
The Grey is a thriller, which once again unites the production efforts of Scott brothers with director Joe Carnahan and actor Liam Neeson after their previous collaboration experience in The A-Team. Though this time no place for humor and jokes was left in the script. Some characters even try to prevent the protagonist to help them. In particular, John Diaz succeeds in that. Played by Frank Grillo his unwillingness to listen and obey to someone, who is more skilled, occasionally leads to some very provocative situations for the survivors in the plane’s crash.
Struggling with himself
Other actors follow their characters’ personality types. You will hardly remember any of their names, when the movie finishes. Still the company features a religious zealot, a reliable assistant, a rebel soul, and even one guy suffering from a rare disease, which gets its worst times after the crash. All human negative traits come to the surface to proove the basic truth: the more people are trying to survive, the fewer will succeed. Among the participating actor at times there is some good performance coming from Dallas Roberts and Dermot Mulroney, who has another winter-themed movie in his portfolio released this season. That story is known as Big Miracle (2012), previously being titled as Everybody Loves Whales (2012).
The Grey film could easily become just another drama about survival in the cold northern lands, but it has already become the object of criticism from animal lovers. For the realistic feel the authors invited a local hunter to the set, who helped to create some wolven props. Gray wolves are no more in the list of protected species in some U.S. regions, but, obviously, the filmmakers in a few scenes went too far to show that people can be much more violent than predators living in the woods. Will it make you feel sorry for the brutally killed wolves? Who knows! You will have to find that out for yourself, when watching the movie.
By the way, the wolves here definitely look better than in the last year’s film – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011), but the ending goes the way of an unxpected dot, leaving you with many questions to be addressed to the writers. The film’s music was compoased by a German guru named Marc Streitenfeld. In his youth he began his career as an assistant to Hans Zimmer, and then became interested in collaboration with Ridley Scott, for whom he has written several great soundtracks, including all the melodies to the already menitioned above Robin Hood movie. The new pieces aren’t so impressive. Apparently, the pressure of a narrow genre and plot restrictions had a strong impact here limiting the opportunities.
The Grey is a Drama going all about human survival in the wilderness, where Liam Neeson does his best to reflect a complex nature and philosophy of a lone brave warrior, what is seen combined in the Ottway’s personality. However, the course of story events here gets predictable rather soon. Along with the total absence of any memorable supporting characters, as well as with some controversial decisions for depicting violence this all does not allow the film to get something to surprise already sophisticated audience, which has had a chance to see some good competing motion pictures on the same topic.
The Grey Trailer
Movie Score by GameScope:
6.5 / 10