Film: “The Grey” is tense, exciting and thoughtful

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February 3rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – When is an action movie not an action movie? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood have this review of The Grey.

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Ryan: So what made you interested in The Grey, the latest film from writer/director Joe Carnahan? Was it his previously acclaimed film, Narc? Was it an affinity for man versus nature storytelling? Perhaps a desire to indulge in cinematography of the Alaskan wild?

The Grey follows the deadly journey of a group of men struggling to survive, after their plane crashes in Alaska.

Matt: No, it was mostly that I saw Liam Neeson punching a wolf in the face in the trailer. I am a huge wolf-face-punching enthusiast.

Ryan: The previews for The Grey would have you believe that the film is yet another late-career action movie from the gigantic Irishman, but Neeson confronts far more than carnivorous beasts in this tale.

Matt: The major conflict in the film isn’t between Neeson’s fists and a wild creature’s snout, but between man and faith. That’s right, what was sold as an action movie is actually a dense exploration of free will versus fate, of humanity’s confrontation with mortality, of the need to seize each day with a violent enthusiasm for life itself!

Ryan: In other words, this isn’t exactly Taken 2. Neeson plays Ottway, a man hired by an oil company to be a wolf assassin.

Matt: Arguably the coolest business card one could ever have.

Ryan: He’s a depressed man pondering suicide the night before a plane filled with fellow employees crashes in the middle of nowhere.

Matt: As the few survivors get picked off by a vicious pack of wolves, the thrills and chills are balanced against thoughtful discussions about spirituality and determinism. Oh, and there are lots of scenes with large amounts of human intestines in them.

Ryan: Rarely does a film surprise like this, choosing to be both tense and exciting while simultaneously engaging in thoughtful dialogue with its audience. The typical survival movie questions are displaced with smart, heady issues of huge significance. And that almost never happens.

Matt: Although Carnahan squandered the promise of his debut film, Narc, by making B-level action drivel like The A-Team and Smokin’ Aces, he once more proves that he’s absolutely deadly when he combines grim action and powerful themes.

Ryan: In case you couldn’t pick up on it, when it comes to The Grey, our answer is as clear as black and white. You need to see it.

Editorial Note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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