DIR: Joe Carnahan • WRI: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers• PRO: Joe Carnahan, Mickey Liddell, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott • DOP: Masanobu Takayanagi • ED: Roger Barton, Jason Hellmann, Joseph Jett Sally • DES: John Willett • Cast: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney
We have a lot to thank Luc Besson for. Before casting Liam Neeson in Taken, the actor was well known for his Oscar®-worthy performances, but afterwards he was seen as a legitimate ass-kicker. Unlike certain other tanned and ab’d ‘action stars’ of late, Neeson’s raw edge makes you absolutely believe he could beat the living daylights out of anybody.
And here we have The Grey, with Neeson reuniting with his A-Team director Joe Carnahan. But The Grey does not have any of the over the top antics from their last pairing, and nor does it have the giddy approach to violence that made Taken fun. No, The Grey is not fun. It is brutal and it is punishing and it will chill you to the bone.
Neeson is Ottway, a man hired by an Alaskan oil drilling company to keep their men safe by shooting any wolves that may wander on to their site. On a flight back home with the crew, an insanely tense and scarily real plane crash finds the few survivors facing off against the weather, hunger and the wolves. The movie has been primarily promoted as ‘Liam Neeson Punches Wolves’, but the film goes deeper than that, touching on some very primal fears of the modern man, and director Carnahan brings some of the same art-house touches that made his debut feature Narc stand out from the crowd.
Aside from Neeson, the only other vaguely recognisable face is Dermot Mulroney, with the rest of the cast all good in their annoyingly clichéd roles. But this is Neeson’s movie; he owns and commands every scene, even when he’s just in the background observing other people’s conversations, your eye is drawn to him. Had it been released a few months earlier, it’s not ridiculous to think he might’ve been in with an Oscar® shot. That’s how good he is in this movie, and it is him that elevates this from ‘That Wolf Punching Movie’ to something so much more.
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Grey is released on 27th January 2012