Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a sharpshooter for an Alaskan oil drilling rig, where the main function of his occupation is to protect the workers from the wolves that come within the vicinities of the area. Despite his commitment to his profession, he's a very depressed and heartbroken man that has nothing going for him except the memories he has of his wife back home. Soon it's time where he and the rest of the men to go back home to be with their families, but a violent plane crash occurs mid-flight and kills well over half of the passengers on-board. Ottway soon finds himself as the leader of seven survivors. He leads the remaining men on a trek across the Alaskan landscape battling not just the harsh winter weather, but also packs of vicious wolves that attack unexpectedly, which progressively cripples the strength in those who remain in the group.
This is the 5th feature film directed by writer-director Joe Carnahan, and this is without a doubt his finest directorial effort since 2002's "Narc." Carnahan's a very underrated filmmaker in my book, and that's mostly due to the two brands of filmmaking in his range. The first type is the very gritty and raw thrillers he's made (Narc and The Grey), and the other being over-the-top action movies mixed with elements of comedy throughout (Smokin' Aces and The A-Team). Personally, I enjoy the first category more than the second one (which I still quite admire though), but "The Grey" was a perfect return to his original style that made a name for him ten years ago. His handheld style is sprinkled throughout the film, which enhances the realism of the harsh situations throughout the film, but his filming becomes more progressive in terms of static camera angles further into the movie, especially in regard to the stunning scenery shots of the Alaskan wilderness. In addition, Carnahan and co-writer Ian McKenzie Jeffers give all of their main characters surprisingly well-written dialogue that actually develops each one of them in a personal matter one-by-one throughout the running time.
Overall, "The Grey" is without a doubt the best movie I have seen so far in 2012, and it was a great way to cap off so-so month of January movies. It was great to see Liam Neeson play a character that wasn't a a complete badass, and instead have a lot of depth and committed leadership, but also a terrific showcase for Joe Carnahan to return to the style of filmmaking that put him on the map ten years ago. Probably the best "man vs. wild" survival film I have seen since Danny Boyle's "127 Hours," "The Grey" is a film that should not be missed, but be very aware that this is not another film where Liam Neeson kicks ass, it's one that is a lot more than just that.
Final Grade: B+
Review of "The Grey" on Youtube