@themovies/ 'The Grey'

Liam Neeson and a pack of territorial wolves may be on the forefront here, but it's our fundamental pursuit to survive that Joe Carnahan's thriller is truly based on

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

'The Grey' was made for a reported
$25 million, and earned more than
$20 million during its opening weekend.
"ONCE more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day...live and die on this day." That's not only a poem from Joe Carnahan's The Grey, but perhaps the film's thesis. It's a theme that flows along this scarcely musty, delightfully indelible action-thriller feature set in an unforgiving region of Alaska.

Liam Neeson, who'll turn 60 this summer, is John Ottway, lonely and in despair, working as part of an oil drilling team, hunting wolves who pose a real threat to his men. It's just minutes into the 2-hour film that Ottway, on the final day of his mission, places the barrel of his gun into his mouth, a letter to his wife Ana in his coat pocket. A wolf howls in the background, and he pulls the rifle away. He'll leave that for another day, perhaps.

Instead, Ottway boards a plane home the next morning in the middle of an Alaskan blizzard. The plane goes down in a snowy desert, and Ottway awakens--alive and well--metres from the wreckage and the bodies of his crew. Seven survive the crash, but are promptly enlightened to a new threat, as a pack of vicious gray wolves make their presence and intentions very clear.

And then there were six.

One by one, the wolves brazenly kill off these unwelcome guests, with no real intent on feeding on their flesh. It ain't about that, and Ottway & co. are quickly made aware of it. They head for the far off trees, now a group of five, and continue building fires as their only means of survival. Hours turn into days, five men becomes four, and they're interiorly determined to make it home, to hospitably appreciate what they've taken for granted. But their numbers keep dwindling, as do their already narrow resources, and more importantly, their hope.

So as to not totally ruin the movie for you, I'll hold off there. You'll have to either chalk up the cash, illegally download a version, or ask one of your friends who've already seen it in order to see what happens to Ottway, who was on the verge of ending it all just prior, and who's now bent on surviving.

PETA and WildEarth Guardians boycotted 'The Grey' because of its portrayal of wolves. The
film also raised controversy when 'The Province' published an article claiming that the
producers of the film purchased four wolf carcasses from a local trapper, to use as props and

and for the cast to eat!

Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces) also scripted and co-produced The Grey--based on Ian Mackenzie Jeffers' short story "Ghost Walker"--and is at his best here, observing detailed characters with plenty of vices, but substance too. He shelters this story with an agenda on man's inner struggle to survive at all means, to uncover one's own drive, no matter how submerged it may be.

Many may find the ending unresolved, but I think we all know what happens here, as Ottway--about to take on the alpha male of the descending wolf pack--whispers those words to himself again: "Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day...live and die on this day." The screen goes black.

4 stars outta 5

For Edmonton & area showtimes of The Grey, click here.

Below is the official trailer for Joe Carnahan's 'The Grey.'

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