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The Grey - DVD Review

Liam Neeson in The Grey

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JOE Carnahan’s The Grey is a men against wolves survival thriller that has the intelligence to match it’s bite.

Inspired as much by the likes of Steven Spielberg’s approach to Jaws as it is Ian Mackenzie Jeffers’ short story Ghost Walker, the film expertly combines moments of horror and gore with existential musings designed to make its characters appear more than just wolf’s bait.

The characters in question are a ragtag bunch of oil rig roughnecks who survive a plane crash deep in the Alaskan wilderness only to find themselves targeted by hungry, territorial wolves.

Leading them is Liam Neeson’s Ottway, a self-taught wolf expert charged with keeping the animals away from the refinery workers on a day-to-day basis, and who is battling suicidal tendencies.

While among those counting on him in different ways are Dermot Mulroney’s sensitive father Talget, Frank Grillo’s bullish ex-con Diaz and Dallas Roberts’ quiet but reliable Hendrick.

Carnahan’s film isn’t without its silly moments or leaps of faith but these are kept to a minimum as the director strives to keep things as grimly realistic as possible.

Part of this is achieved by his gutsy use of the clearly inhospitable British Columbia locations (the film was shot in Smithers), as well as a clever use of the wolves, which are used sparingly but whose presence is felt continually throughout.

The attack sequences are swift but brutal and genuinely succeed in raising the tension and excitement levels (and only occasionally appearing CGI based).

While the performances, too, are uniformly excellent with the ensemble players clearly rising to a script that affords them opportunity to rise above perceived stereotypes as well as inject some suitable gallows humour into the mix.

Neeson, especially, crafts a well rounded leader who is governed as much by fear as he is the power of his convictions but there’s notable work from Grillo and Mulroney.

If the film does occasionally linger towards its final stages, Carnahan puts things back on track with a haunting conclusion that doesn’t compromise the integrity of what’s gone before.

In that sense The Grey can be said to exhilarate as it takes you on its journey while leaving you with the type of good impression that lasts.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 117mins
UK Blu-ray and DVD Release: May 21, 2012