Film Review: The Grey
Do you like snow?
Do you like Liam Neeson sounding gruff and important?
Do you like ridiculously gigantic and vindictive wolves? And snow?
TL;DR It’s Liam Neeson trudging through snow for 2 hours. Throw in some obvious symbolism and faux depth and you’ve got The Grey. 3 out of 5 stars.
Yeah, I like Liam Neeson. So what? Who cares?
My biggest problem with The Grey comes from two sources which combine into a honey-glazed, nougaty swirl of meh: the length and the plot.
This thing is 2 hours long. No.
And it totally didn’t need to be. It literally is just Liam Neeson and a bunch of nobodies walking through snow and occasionally getting attacked by wolves whenever the movie decides nothing has happened for long enough. That’s it. Worst of all is that they all die, so the whole thing was entirely pointless. What a fucking waste of time.
This is where that “faux depth” crack I made starts to slip in. Because nothing is fucking happening, the characters have to sit around and try to sound meaningful. It’s pathetic. All of them (save the Douche. His weepy moment comes later) just speak wistfully about their girlfriends or kids back home. What a fucking revelation. Really, you have lives? No way! So does anyone ever! We have so much in common. I might care when you get wolfed (spoiler alert: I didn’t).
Neeson’s character has two points of depth going for him. The first is a female (who is WAY too young for him) who I guess died of some kind of illness? It’s left vague. All she does is appear randomly to tell him to not be afraid. Thanks, bitch. That’s super helpful. He also has some daddy issue bullshit going on. This is flat and obtrusive. I get the whole masculinity thing, but pfft. Your father was a horrible, violent, Irish drunk? Oh, but he wrote one verse of very average poetry? Guess that makes up for it.
However, even though this is obscenely long winded, when the action is on, it’s on. Is there anyone alive who doesn’t enjoy watching Liam Neeson kick butt? To be fair, most of the time he just flops around with his plot armour on while some minor nobody gets chomped, but still. He’s an innovative, pragmatic guy. Thus, a hero I can care about. These guys really do go to all the lengths to get out of there.
Such a shame they don’t.
Why I hate this movie:
It’s too caught up in its own self-importance. They should have sped up the pace, cut down the screentime and left in just enough “meaning” to keep this hovering above the creature feature it probably should have been. Seriously, if Neeson wasn’t in this, I would have dismissed it entirely. And after doing fucking Battleship, his cred is losing serious value.
Neeson’s character’s job at the rig was shooting wolves. Really? Is that a thing?
Neeson does some narration at the beginning (context: it’s a note he’s writing to his dead girlfriend) which is hilariously expositional and melodramatic. Lame.
There’s a scene where the survivors are discussing a scuffle they can hear between the wolves. Apparently the alpha is being challenged and the challenger gets put in his place. Guess what the Douche does about 10 seconds later, and how well it goes? Obvious symbolism is obvious.
The Douche creates arbitrary drama. A lot. Settle down, bro.
And the wolves are bizarrely inconsistent. In one scene they straight up attack the survivors even though there’s fires everywhere. But whenever Neeson is near, they fall to shit. Two examples would be when they chase Neeson and Henrik (the only 2 left at this point) near the river. Henrik falls in, yet they don’t go after Neeson. And then at the end, when Neeson is finally cornered, he just leisurely gets his knife and knuckle duster ready. And has time to recite his daddy’s amazing poetry.
Reasons to watch:
Liam Neeson doing his thing. Is that not enough?
The plane crash is done well. No buckets of CGI bullshit. It’s quick and brutal. How I imagine a real plane crash might be.
Even though they are retarded, those wolves are scary shit. And I can see they tried to limit the CGI, which I appreciate.
Neeson threatens the Douche when he tries looting the crash victims. It is awesome.
If there’s a bad Eskimo hooker joke, it’s not in this movie.
When the Douche finally does break down and has his “woe is me”, “go on without me” moment, it was surprisingly moving. He had nothing to go back to. Was sad, yo.
Neeson himself breaks down and curses out god. It’s funny and depressing at the same time. Then his pragmatism kicks in and he decides he can do it himself. What a boss.
Oh, and at the end we find out they’ve been heading toward the wolves’ den the whole time. This is hilarious. Irony!
Neesons gonna Nees. If you can bear to look at snow for 2 hours and try to give a damn about a bunch of thinly-drawn characters, you’ll have a good time. Plus, there’s bad poetry, so you can pretend to be deep and perceptive while you try to convince your friends you didn’t just sit through a 2 hour monster movie. 3 out of 5 stars.