Film as dull as the title suggests

The Grey,
R16, 2hr 10min
Reviewed by Jimmy Ellingham.

If director Joe Carnahan came up with this film's title, he is a genius.

Grey is a dull colour associated with Soviet architecture and cloudy days. It also accurately depicts this film.

Everything starts out OK and we're introduced to the life of John Ottway (Liam Neeson) who works for an oil drilling operation in desolate Alaska.

His job among the rabble of rough, hard men is to shoot and kill wolves that threaten the workers.

Neeson plays a strong stoic Irishman and turns in a typically strong performance in what is otherwise a thriller with few thrills.

Without giving too much of the plot away, a plane carrying some of the men out of Alaska goes down in the middle of some snowy mountainside somewhere and a few survivors have to try to fend off the cold and the wolves.

For guys who smacked into the ground at high speed, the seven men we begin with are remarkably and unrealistically unscathed, considering the wreckage looks like the remains of the DC10 in the Mt Erebus disaster.

Ottway even wakes up in some conveniently soft snow, looking as if he's just taken an afternoon nap rather than been in a plane crash.

As is the way with these films, you know that seven will soon become six, which will soon become five and so on. That's what happens, but not very quickly.

Some men get eaten by wolves, and that's quite entertaining.

The Grey is adapted from the short story Ghost Walker, by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers.

Drawing the short story out to a two-hour movie didn't work well.

The problem is that all the guys wandering around aimlessly in the snow, with a just a few branches for protection from the fangs of hungry wolves, are all too similar.

Standard reducing-numbers films always have a couple of characters that the audience wants to live or die, but it's not the case here.

Aside from Ottway, there's John Diaz. He's a hard man, who's not that likeable, but not unlikeable either.

There's also Pete Hendrick. He's a hard man, who's not that likeable, but not unlikeable. Good luck even noticing his existence before the movie's final few minutes.

And you can't forget Burke. He's a hard man, who's not that likeable, but not unlikeable.

With no-one to root for, the film just feels like a meandering maze that will never end.

As Ottway says to God near the end of the film: "Just do something."

After enduring a bleak couple of hours, the ending is a letdown and made a few audience members at Downtown groan.

Not good.

Manawatu Standard