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'The Grey' Review: Neeson Takes on Wolves, Survival Movie Tropes


What will it take to finally bring humankind together, to unite us all in respect and appreciation and a sense of shared purpose? How about a pack of vicious wolves intent on tearing us to bloody shreds? Judging by “The Grey,” director Joe Carnahan’s new deep-freeze thriller, that might do it.

The best thing about this movie is its shivery hypothermic vérité, a credit to the skill of cinematographer Masanobu Takanayagi, working under what must have been very trying conditions.

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The story is set in the snow-blown wastes of Arctic Alaska, and the brutally frigid environment, with its attendant sub-zero temperatures, is vividly depicted–the actors, haloed in clouds of breath condensation, really appear to be freezing. (The picture was actually shot in northern Canada–not a tropical getaway in any event.)

The main characters are part of a group of oilfield roughnecks who were en route from their remote worksite for two weeks of R&R elsewhere when their shuttle plane took a dive into the icy tundra, leaving them suddenly either stranded or dead. Only eight men have survived. Fortunately, one of them is Liam Neeson, whose warm, hefty presence would be reassuring in any predicament. His fellow survivors are a traditionally mixed bunch: a couple of nice guys (Dermot Mulroney and Dallas Roberts), one wiseass (Frank Grillo), and one gentle fellow (Nonso Anozie) who clearly shouldn’t be making any long-range life plans.

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