(NEW YORK) — Liam Neeson is John Ottway, a sniper whose job it is to protect the men of an Alaskan oil refinery from encroaching animals. He is alone in what may well be one of the loneliest and coldest places on Earth, and misses his wife terribly. Consumed by his loneliness and dispassion for life, puts a gun in his mouth and…he doesn’t pull the trigger. This time.
Ottway boards a plane for home but the journey ends in a horrific plane crash (on Twitter, #EpicPlaneFail), rendered in graphic detail by writer/director Joe Carnahan — and it is gruesome. The crash, and The Grey in general, is not for the faint of heart.
Only a handful of men survive the crash and Ottway, who only hours earlier was ready to end his life, now wants to live, driven by visions of his beloved wife. It is Ottway who comforts a dying man, who declares the importance of building a fire and staying warm. It is Ottway who will eventually command the survivors to collect the wallets of the deceased to return them to their families. And it is Ottway who will teach the rest of the men how to survive against the wolves who appear out of the wild to stalk them — wolves who, it turns out, are far more lethal than the plane crash that stranded their human prey.
The Grey is a relentless, violent and gory movie that often demands the audience suspend disbelief. It’s also a thrilling and unpredictable tale of survival. My gut (and Google) tells me that some might write off The Grey as a comfortable attempt by Liam Neeson to cash in on another action flick. While he may indeed be sticking to his considerable strengths in the genre (and there’s nothing wrong with that), Neeson endows his character with a heartbreaking vulnerability that elevates this film above others of its kind. You’ll need an exorcist after The Grey to rid yourself of his haunting performance.
Four out of five stars.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio