Meet John Ottway, an ex-convict who has a mastery of nature that allows him to lead a group of men through the snowy wilderness in an attempt to find rescue. Played by Liam Neeson, Ottway is a protagonist who gets the job done of keeping the movie going. Unfortunately, it ends up going to the same place over and over again. As the group moves deeper and deeper into the wilderness, Grey fails to deviate from its initial path of move, die, move, die, move, die. Although the actual way that characters die starts to vary, it never really feels like the movie takes a step in either direction once it gets going.
The group of convicts is believable to a degree and they clash with each other as expected before they realize there is a much bigger threat that requires them to unite. One area where The Grey does not fail is in its cast. Poor acting could have been a kiss of death for this movie, but a group of believable characters at least gives us reason to root for these poor bastards. It's unfortunate that more of their stories weren't allowed to expand as it would have been nice to find more of a reason to root for them to survive. It's also unfortunate that the only way we can learn more about them is for all threats to cease while they sit around a fire and talk. This is where the pacing becomes exhausting by the end.
It takes a skilled filmmaker to develop a plot as the characters face their trials. The Grey feels the need to silence the storms and put the wolves to sleep so we can learn about the men we are supposed to care for. This ends up making the action feel overwhelming and the dialogue feel stretched and dull. The unfortunate truth is that a good movie lies at the heart of the film's premise.
There's nothing wrong with a good "man vs. wild" film but it seems that The Grey wants to only prove that, in the end, man is impotent against nature. Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that we don't stand a chance against a ravid pack of wolves and a snow covered wilderness. However, it becomes painstaking to watch a group of men slowly fall to the perils of the wild with no glimmer of hope to be found.
The Grey seems to lose its footing once it gets out of the gate. With an odd mix of religious conflicts, disorienting action, long-winded fire side conversations and CG that, at times truly takes away from the experience, I can't help but feel like The Grey is one big misfire. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone who's looking for a great time at the movies because in my experience, the best movies take you away from reality and prove to be a nice diversion. However, if you're looking for a movie about humans getting their asses handed to them by nature then this is the movie you've been waiting for!
MY RATING: C+