So the latest film that I have been to see is The Grey starring Liam Nesson. This film is an adaptation of the a short story called “Ghost Walker” by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers. I went along expecting to see Mr Nesson crash a plane, run through the snow home while round house kicking wolves in the face as he went. Much the bad assery seen in the other Nesson action film of late (things like Taken and Unknown). BUT, I was pleasantly surprised that this was more of a straight film about a man, who has little to start with, leading a group of men from a plane wreck through the wilderness. This would be bad enough but this group of oil workers are being hunted by a pack of wolves. As is explained by Nessons character ” John Ottway”, whose job it was to kill wolves on the oil fields, if they were within 30 miles of the Den the wolves will attack.
So these men are in a plane crash. They end up in the middle of nowhere where everything is a bit grey. It is always snowing and even when there is no blizzard it is still well below freezing. “So its a film about a group of men working together to survive?”, well yes and no. At its bones i suppose it is but the real theme of the story is about these men coming to terms with surviving a horrific event such as a plane crash and being even more pearl afterwards. The men are coming to terms with the fact this could be the end of their lives.
Ok. From here there maybe spoilers so you have been warned!
The film looks at some great themes. My favourite is the “out of the frying pan, into the fire” aspect mentioned above. The fact that these men had nothing to begin is key. It is outlined that the men who work in this area in the desolate north of America, only go there because they have nothing else. This seems to be the case with each of the characters who survive the crash. They have survived a plane crash, they want to live but if they get back, what is there for them when they get back? More of the same which they hate? So as they come to terms with being saved, the group start to get attacked by wolves as they are in the wolves territory. After a few of the team are attacked at the crash site it sinks in that they are in even bigger trouble. Nessons character seeing this basically gives the group a task. They need to get the wallets of the dead home for the families. I don’t think this was as much to do with respect for the dead but to give the men something to strive towards on their treck to survive while being chased by the wolves.
Another theme liked was the similarities between the wolf pack and the group of men. The main instance of this is when the group find themselves penned in at the bottom of a slop and the pack are at the top but the fires the group make deter the pack. At this point there is an all mighty howl from the wolves and a confrontation. Ottway then explains it was the alpha male putting down a challenge from another male in the pack. A little later the character John Diaz (who is the “he’s a bit of a dick” character) challenges Ottway who puts down the challenge with embers from the fire. This works on two levels. The obvious parallels above but also the use of fire which is the main weapon against the pack throughout the film is used to kill a pack like threat from Diaz.
The John Diaz character also has the best scene in the film. This is where he gives up. He has had too much and realises that where he is at that point, after surviving a plane crash, days of chase and lack of food, at that place he sat, with the most breath taking view he as ever seen, was where he wanted to die. He is happy and if he continues and survives he will go back to having nothing. No real achievement. At that point, a man who was defiant about living to the extent he produced a blade on his own team, sat and finally accepted death and was happy in letting it come over him after his achievements on the treck.
The film also has a nice little twist concerning the Ottway character. Throughout the film Ottway has flash backs to his ex-wife. He writes a note to her as a tries to commit suicide before the doomed flight but changes his mind when he hears a wolf howl (I know that’s a bit naff). As the film go on I was lead to believe that she left him for another man but at the end you see the dip attached to her arm and you realise the real story. I personally never seen it coming but my girlfriend twigged it in the first 15 minutes of the film. So if you were dim witted like me its a nice twist!
The film however has its problems. The wolves in some places are a bit, well… crap. The close up mauling are all over the place and the wolves seemed to run at about 5 times faster that I would have imagined in deep snow. Also there are a lot of wolf references such as the suicide howl which were not as subtle as the ones mentioned earlier.
I personally really enjoyed the film although my girlfriend was a bit unsure. Maybe its a guy film. I don’t really know about that one. Overall it is a dark film but it explores some great issues and if you haven’t seen it, stay till the end of the credits. I will not spoil that one even past the spoiler warning!
So I enjoyed Liam Neeson’s newest offering despite the fact he didn’t really beat the crap out of any wolves. I look forward to Taken 2 and the continuing action career of Mr Neeson. (A shout for the expendables 3?)
Till next time