Adapted from a short story by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, entitled Ghost Walker, The Grey is a dramatic movie focusing on the ineffable qualities of life, and a man’s search for existential meaning in an uncertain and merciless world.
The film was directed by Joe Carnahan who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Ian MacKenzie Jeffers. It stars Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, and Dermot Mulroney. Liam Neeson’s performance is nothing short of outstanding. His depiction of the character’s emotive and conflicted relationship to nature, humanity, and life, is profoundly executed.
Set in the Alaskan wilderness, the movie depicts a profound feeling of the majestic quality of nature, and the fragility of our own existence. The story follows a number of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash who are forced to survive the harsh conditions as a pack of grey wolves stalk them amidst mercilessly cold weather.
Animal activist groups such as PETA and WildEarth Guardians started drives to boycott the film due to both to its negative depiction of wolves, and the fact that the movie used four wolf carcasses during production. Bought from a local trapper, two carcasses were used as props, and two were used for the cast to eat during filming. Director Joe Carnahan has downplayed the criticism by saying that there are in fact reports of wolves turning on man, but he says that ultimately the film is about a man's inner journey to find his survival instincts.
I feel that the movie used wolves as a theatric device to personify of the unrelenting harshness of nature, and a mirror of our own need to endure, rather than portray an endangered species in a negative light. I quite literally live with a wolf, and can attest that they are very loving, however, do challenge on a daily basis one’s biased perceptions regarding life and our relationship to nature and each other.
The film earned generally positive reviews from critics. The Grey holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, stating: "The Grey is an exciting tale of survival, populated with fleshed-out characters and a surprising philosophical agenda." Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, and wrote that the unrelenting harshness of The Grey so affected him that he departed the screening of a different movie on the same day: "It was the first time I've ever walked out of a film because of the previous film. The way I was feeling in my gut, it just wouldn't have been fair to the next film. "
I highly suggest seeing The Grey. Never before in a movie have I been so confronted with my own existential questioning about life, death and the conflicted need to survive.
"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..."