5. Go beast crazy
6. Stare down adversaries
8. Never give up
With the merciful exception of #9, you'll see Neeson do all of the above in Joe Carnahan's The Grey. It's about a team of oil drillers whose plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness. The survivors must band together against cold, hunger, and wolf, whilst Liam battles some inner demons of his own. It's like The Edge, but with wolves instead of bears. It's also a little like other recent Neeson films, only instead of tracking down his daughter, he's savaging around the forest and sewing his own wounds.
I like a good survival story, one that takes time to show how each necessity (food, fire, etc) is acquired. In fact I was pissed off when the Lost crew was knee-deep in fresh water and boar meat by the end of the second episode. And while The Grey is more action-thriller than survival drama, it captures well enough the terror of being lost in the wilderness. If a belligerent Irishman should glass-fistfight a few endangered species in the telling of that tale, so be it.
Writer-director Joe Carnahan has a lot to prove after the ass-terrible A-Team movie. But as he demonstrated with the very decent Narc, he works better on a smaller, human scale. And there's no better human to cast in this role than big Liam Neeson. The title, The Grey, might refer to the Alaskan tundra, the wild wolf, or a code of morality that fades in a survival situation. But it's also a handle that befits Neeson himself, an aging, raging man's man who, at nearly sixty, can embody both the father-figure we've always wanted, and the violent-uncle figure we're terrified of. He's a large, grey bag of passion, and a god damned good actor. When he tears into wolf meat for the first time, listen close. That's the suckling sound of triumph.
It's a nice touch to make the characters in this movie an oil drilling team. Not only does it make for a pertinent theme, but it also allows the audience some guilt-free movie bloodlust. These fellas have been raping the environment after all -- we can all enjoy a bit of nature's sweet justice. In the end, though, we're rooting for them both. We want to see the wolves survive in their own environment, and on a larger scale, it's the environment that's struggling to survive; but Neeson and his cronies are our people, and we want them to live, to reach civilization, and for their newfound respect for nature to pass on. But can they do it? Can man clash with wilderness and survive?
Does Liam Neeson shit in the woods?
Dorien Sez: B+
Watch the Trailer: