“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Joe Carnahan / Actors: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie ... / DVD released 2012-05-21 at Entertainment in Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Liam Neeson
Genre - Action
County - USA
Certificate - 18R
Run Time - 117 minutes
Blockbusters - £per night rental
Amazon - £5.41 on DVD (£6.81 Blue Ray)
Liam Neeson has stereotyped himself of late, and for the better, free of those sickly romcoms, the brooding ex Special Forces type roles enjoyable to watch, the unexpected hit of Taken reviving his career. To me his role in Schindlers List was the best performance I have ever seen in modern cinema and so set the bar too high for him to better it, if you like. It's almost as if that took everything out of him and the washed up roles he plays on screen kind of reflect that early peak to his career. Taken was great stuff and the Unknown soon after also fun, The Grey a hybrid of. Taken 2 was obviously a shameless cash in he probably didn't want to do and so we will let him off that one.
The Grey is a psychological thriller and co-written, produced and directed by Joe Carnahan, who's only other decent movie was Narc with Ray Liotta. It is based on the short story "Ghost Walker" by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Carnahan. The total duration of the film is set in icy Alaska and unrelenting white and snow, mostly filmed in equally chilly British Columbia where the cast, headed by Liam Neeson, had to tolerate temperatures of minus 40 to complete the film. Neesons shot at method acting for the piece was eating wolf steaks, which angered the environmentalists, two of three parties needing the publicity, except the wolves, of course.
Liam Neeson ... Ottway
Frank Grillo ... Diaz
Dermot Mulroney ... Talget
Dallas Roberts ... Hendrick
Joe Anderson ... Flannery
Nonso Anozie ... Burke
James Badge Dale ... Lewenden
Ben Bray ... Hernandez
Anne Openshaw ... Ottway's Wife
=== The Plot ===
Ottaway (Liam Neeson), a sharpshooter who protects oil workers and the like from wolves and other dangerous wildlife in the Artic circle, is flying across Canada with other roughnecks when their plane goes down, eight male survivors and the temperature falling fast as night sets in, ironic as Ottaway had just put his hunting rifle in his mouth the night before to end it all.
Hundreds of miles from the nearest town and so hope and help, the search plane having to get seriously lucky to find them, Ottaway clicks into survival mode and assumes the role of Alpha Male, saving who he can and helping others on their way to deaths warm embrace. But they are not as alone as they thought they were. A pack of wild and angry wolves aren't happy with the humans on their hunting grounds, eyeing the survivors as their potential food source, clearly smelling their fear as they encircle the wreck.
Ottaway, who is hurting from as yet unexplained reasons involving his wife, seen through flashback, takes control and tries to keep them alive through the bitter night, but the wolves striking quickly and one passenger dead before morning, his throat ripped apart. The plan now is to leg it to the tree line at sun up where they will have a better chance of outwitting the pack, but another one picked off as they make their move.
Down to just five In the woods its only the strong survive, fellow alpha male Diaz (Frank Grillo) at odds with Ottaway's leadership style, but soon put in his place when he goes eyeball to eyeball with The Grey, the alpha male of the wolf pack. If they survive a second night and make it to the river they have chance, cut stumps suggesting loggers have been through recently. If they don't then its game over.
=== Results ===
It's a Liam Neeson action movie and so it's good fun. The lumbering and lugubrious actor doesn't need to chase around and crash cars to be an action hero as that deep Irish brogue and menacing stare is all that's needed. He really does have a screen presence like no other. The desolate and brutal Alaskan environment marries that persona and he carries the film with ease as his fellow survivors get picked off in order of previous movie success. There is some sort of religious angle going on here between the macho stuff and desolate banter but really a film about being a man and that loneliness that eventually brings.
It's paced well and violent when it needs to be although occasionally let down by some cheap and corny animatronics, the catseyes in the night shot raising a chuckle. The tension is high throughout although it does stall a little to squeeze in the macho banter although presumably the metaphor of the movie that the humans will behave like animals in the pack to survive when it comes down to it. But Neeson convinces in that fatherly and controlled way and so drags the movie along with him like a dead husk.
The relentless and bracing Alaskan wilds keep up the foreboding throughout when the action slackens off and the supporting cast not quite as wooden as the surrounding forests of mighty untouched pines. One or two of you may not be best pleased with the ambiguous ending but I always welcome Hollywood movies that go against convention and neatly tying the bow at that end is not always appropriate. The punters ended up being ok with what turned out an ok action movie and for its $51 million budget it did $77 million back. It's not the most thrilling movie of its type you will see but certainly worth its current £2.00 rental at Blockbusters, an ideal evening rental for young adults and up.
=== Ratings ===
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (123.431 votes)
Metacritc.com - 64% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 79% critic's approval rating
CNN.COM -'The Grey remains a genuinely gripping survival story and a refreshing change from stale urban action flicks'.
Empire Magazine -'Carnahan's best work since Narc, with a powerhouse performance by Neeson and real emotional heft'.
Rolling Stone -'Hold on tight. It's a true call of the wild.
TV Guide -'Carnahan's gripping yet grim thriller is either a masterpiece of reflective cinema, or a bleak, inexcusably nihilistic bid to transcend movie tropes by alienating the audience'.
The Mail -'The Grey is an exciting, if uneven, paean to the macho ideal'.
I almost didn't bother watching this film, and for the first half an hour or so I really had to persevere to keep my interest. You see, it's one of those thought provoking films that relies a lot on philosophical thinking and digging deep within yourself to find what you want from life. But when it really gets going it's tense and keeps you riveted to the screen.
Liam Neeson plays John Ottway, a man employed by an oil drilling team to fend off wilds animals from their site, mainly involving his rifle and the grey wolves prevalent to the area of Alaska they're in. After questioning his own existence and whether he wants to carry on living, he makes the final flight home for time off, only for the plane to crash land in the middle of nowhere, and with the survivors, they have to fend off not only the elements, but a pack of vicious grey wolves who have chosen the group as their target. They can make it to safety, but the odds are not stacked in their favour.
The film focuses a lot on the concept of wolves and how they hunt in packs, as well as dangling the carrot to discuss religion and belief. Putting a motley crew of gruff oil drillers in the wilderness and getting them to fend for themselves reveals arrogant and bristly personalities as well as a lack of trust for each other. But Ottway is the outsider, the main whose role has always been set aside from theirs, and despite his natural leadership and knowledge of outdoor survival and how their attackers are thinking and acting, they shun him and question his every decision. However, you get the strong suspicion that if they are to survive then they'll have to trust him eventually.
As I said, once it gets going it's actually very entertaining. I found myself finding it hard working out who was who for the first half of the film, as they're all in big heavy thick woolly and waterproof clothing, with beanies, facial hair...and it's generally dark. There's not a lot to choose between them, but as the film goes on, the relatively simple plot means that the few conversations they have end up being quite soul searching and we do get a few back stories. I think this is a relatively important aspect of the film as it allows the characters to develop. Without it we would have a bunch of undistinguishable men following Liam Neeson in a starring role that typifies stereotypical film making. Luckily, it's not like that at all.
It also poses a lot of questions about religion. We see them thinking it, they have conversations about it, and the various 'visions' each of them have indicate that life after death may be something they're considering, so bleak are the conditions. Ottway as the leader of the pack has his own questions about faith, and we see these come through, while other characters display their thoughts and feelings on it in their own ways. Diaz, for example, presents himself as the most vocal opposition to Ottway's leadership, and while none of them have any real claim to being in charge, given the circumstances even he submits to the hunter's experience.
Aside from it taking a while to actually to get used to the characters, there are also questions as to the wolves' involvement in the film, with some claiming that the content and detail is damaging to wolves and that they're not always the ruthless predatory creatures portrayed here. While they're not exactly the best pet material, I can see what they mean, as the wolves in this pack hunt viciously and with no small measure of tact and revenge. They're almost given human characteristics in the way they stalk the group and by the way the men talk about them and treat them, wary of a foe more vicious and dangerous than themselves.
There are also some gory sequences, showing that this is not for the faint of heart by any means. You don't see a lot, with most of the action left to our minds to fill in the blanks. The wolves are often done in close up, with the vicious attack scenes not actually revealing a lot when you think about it. There's a lot of blood and guts, and the aftermath is as gory as the sound effects and brief visuals preceding it. Generally well done, and I guess the message is just to accept that this particular pack of wolves is a vicious and violent predatory one, not for the timid and certainly not likely to leave you alone.
If you set yourself in the right mood, this is a maturely made film that will have you riveted by the end and able to enjoy the film. I found myself jumping a few times, and concentrated so hard that I lost my surroundings and almost started to feel cold as if I too were in Alaska. The visuals are extremely bleak and morose, and there's nothing here that will pick you up. Often dark, cold and bleak, there's violence and a clear struggle for survival as the characters question life and its meanings. Slow to start, but worth a watch
My husband had been going on about The Grey for months, so when it appeared on Sky Premier on Friday night he couldn't contain his excitement. I on the other hand was less enthusiastic. I don't know why, but I just didn't fancy it. I'm normally a fan of Liam Neeson but the advertising I had seen for it just didn't seem to capture me.
The film is set in Alaska where a group of oil workers board a plane to fly home. The plane is full of hillbilly type men, and when they fly through bad turbulence they inevitably crash (what film sees a plane go through turbulence and not crash?!). The scene centres on John Ottway (Liam Neeson), but slowly we come to realise that there are other survivors. The scene for about 5 - 10 minutes is quite traumatic as Ottway stumbles upon people from the plane who have been horrifically injured or who haven't survived. What becomes clear pretty quickly is that they have crash landed in the middle of nowhere in blizzard conditions and their chance of being found before they die through literally freezing or starving to death is pretty slim.
Ottway soon takes charge as their situation worsens when they realise they have become the prey of a pack of wolves. By chance Ottway is a marksman, employed by the oil rig to protect the oil riggers from the wolves. What follows is a story of survival as the survivors play cat and mouse with the carnivorous wolves. The storyline was pretty cheesy if I'm honest but it was tense in quite a few places and had a decent enough pace.
The effects were so so, on some occasions the wolves were excellent and then on others it was appalling. I really do think film fans expect more than this nowadays. If I'm perfectly honest, I found the film quite depressing throughout, the wolf pack are relentless and there is little hope throughout the film for the survivors. There is no happy thoughts or reminiscing through the film, it's just pretty miserable all the way through!
For those thinking of watching the film, don't switch off at the end credits like I did. There is a short post credit scene which ends the film a little better than I had first thought.
Quite surprisingly for me, the film seems to have received quite a good reception both critically and from viewers of the film, but I just didn't rate it that much. I'm going to give it three stars which I think is being quite generous, and this is purely because it kept my attention, however I was being quite annoying and making lots of bitchy remarks throughout the film, like 'oh come on, as if', 'how depressing', 'and the point of that was', you get my drift. It did end quite abruptly which I don't ever like, I often want more information or explanation of a film, particularly so in the case of this film.
I think the film has also attempted to be quite philosophical and is slightly deeper (emotionally) than it needed to be. There has also be controversy surrounding the film, and I think rightly so too. The film has come under fire for its depiction of the grey wolf in the film, by animal welfare groups such as PETA, as it depicts the wolves as dangerous and only in a negative light. There was also controversy when it was reported that the production team had bought the carcasses of four wolves to use in the film and also to eat. Hmmm, perhaps not the best idea! The director supposedly downplayed the emphasis of the violent wolves and instead highlighted 'the significance of man's internal struggle for survival'! See - it's just pretentious! I also highly suspect that a lot of the depictions of the grey wolf is wholly inaccurate anyway.
Acting wise, I think Neeson has been slightly let down by the rest of the cast and Neeson is the one and only in this film in my opinion.
I'm obviously in the minority however, as the $25 million budget was absolutely smashed with its $77 million takings. Not bad for an 'okay' film ; )
To summarise, watch if you really want but it's not the best.
"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..."
Being of Fan of Liam I was pleased to see this come out on DVD and hoped for a Taken 2 really (although that has come out now) He is a trained killer of wolves who protects workers in the back of beyond and flys out with other workers after having spent - what you guess - to be a while a way from home.
The plane dosnt make it and as with these reviews it is too easy to give the plot away and then you dont have anything to look forward to. Suffice to say that there is then a bunch of men with different characters and different ideas of leadership being stalked by wolves as they try to survive.
Who survives and who dosnt you will need to see the film but some of the scenes have their fair share of gore and you will find yourself talking to the telly as some of the characters go down in the name of survival.
Some good acting and a basic survival story with some special effects to make the wolves bigger than they should be and possibly more intelligent than they should be. Not too many twists but worth a bag of popcorn and a cheap rental - you may not watch it twice unless your a Liam fan
Liam Neeson is employed to shoot wolves that stray near the oil rig where he and his colleagues work. A plane full of the workers including Neeson crashes and only six of them survive the crash. If surviving a plane crash wasn't enough, they are then hunted by wolves. Neeson has an understanding of wolves and so takes leadership and tries to keep everyone alive.
*what did I think*
The film is quite gruesome in parts - I'll give you a clue - not everyone survives the wolf attacks. If you don't like blood and gore then I'd avoid this film. I liked it though and it does keep you on the edge of your seat. Their approach to the wolves seemed a bit inconsistent though - one minute they had weapons to fight them off and then later in the film they didn't - I think I'd have kept hold of a weapon at all times!
The plot is quite good and it shows the interesting relationships between the men who survive the crash and also those who are important to them - through storytelling and their dreams.
I struggle to find films that both me and my partner like and something like this usually fits the bill quite well.
The Grey is a film starring Liam Neeson and was released in 2012. It is a 15 film, largely because of the violence and swearing and the plot is based on the Ghost Walker short story by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers. I can't comment on the DVD extras (if there are any) as we rented this from Blockbuster.
==The Basic Plot==
Liam Neeson plays a character called Ottoway who is an oil worker working in deepest, darkest Alaska. It is clear from the outset that Ottoway is unhappy with his life in Alaska and sees his job as being perfect for wanderers and people with no direction in their lives. He pens a suicide note to his wife who we see in flashbacks through the film and makes an attempt to shoot himself. The sound of a wolf howling disturbs him and the trigger doesn't go off. We see Ottoway and the rest of the workers heading out of Alaska on a plane which unfortunately crashes into the plains of Alaska. There are seven or eight survivors and they need to find help and survive the bitterness of the Alaskan winter. They set off in search of help but with the bitter cold, rugged landscape and wolves to contend with, will they survive their journey?
First of all, if you are a nervous flyer, give this a miss - I didn't realise it had a plane crash in it and for me it was far too realistic so I suppose I should commend the special effects team for that. Equally, if you are not a fan of blood and gore, give this a miss as there are plenty of mangled body bits throughout. We find more out about Ottoway and the rest of the survivors throughout the film, but only snippits of their backstory. It is hard to care about the survivors until we know anything about them and this doesn't happen until about a third of the way through their journey for help. Once we have heard of their families and why they are out in Alaska, it makes me want them to survive even more. We don't fully understand Liam Neeson's reasons for the attempted suicide until the very end of the film. Death and acceptance of death are huge themes throughout this film, it really isn't a 'feel good' film so don't expect to be cheered up by it.
The acting from all parties is very good. Liam Neeson never lets me down as an actor and the supporting cast were very good and very convincing too. The scenery is stunning and the CGI of the wolves is very realistic and scary. The plot for me feels very predictable as the survivors begin their journey. Without giving too much away, the ending is slightly ambiguous and this was the only part that wasn't predictable as I felt sure I knew what happened in the end. The twist was good.
This is a good film, it is well acted, well filmed and the plot is fairly good if not a little predictable. It won't be a classic to add to my DVD collection but is a good film nonetheless and I would recommend giving it a go.
About the film
The Grey is an American thriller film that is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 21st May 2012. The film is rated 15 due to scenes of extreme violence and bad language. The Grey has a run time of 117 minutes. The film is based on the short story Ghost Walker by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay..
At a refinery in Alaska, crude oil is broken into various elements for commercial use. Workers endure gruelling five-week shifts working extremely long hours. While getting ready to have a much earned two week holiday, one group of men encounter a brutal storm on the flight home. Crashing in the middle of Alaska, the crash kills most people on board except for eight men. Their only hope of survival is to head for civilisation which is a long way away. If the harsh weather conditions weren't enough, the men are hounded by a mysterious (and big) pack of wild wolves looking to protect their home.
Self-appointed leader of the group is John Ottway, a sharpshooter hired to keep the refinery safe from any wild animal. While killing things like wolves is his job, out in the wilderness he has no weapons to hide behind. The lead the men to safety, John must rely on instinct and smart choices as well as being quick on his feet to get away from the wolves in time.
Liam Neeson as John Ottway
Frank Grillo as John Diaz
Dermot Mulroney as Talget
Dallas Roberts as Pete Hendrick
Joe Anderson as Todd Flannery
Nonso Anozie as Burke
James Badge Dale as Lewenden
Jacob Blair as Cimoski
Ben Bray as Hernandez
Anne Openshaw as Ottway's Wife
What I thought
Going into this film, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. I hadn't seen a proper trailer for it nor did I know anything about the plot. All I had seen was a poster on a bus stop with Liam Neeson's face taking up all of the space. However, my boyfriend was really interested in seeing this one so I gave it a go regardless of not knowing anything about it.
As soon as the film started I realised that this film really wasn't going to be anything like what I thought it was going to be. The Grey doesn't take long at all to get straight into the main plot of the men being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Once the plane begins to hit turbulent weather, I soon understood what the film was going to be about. Liam Neeson's character does not fare well with flying and the panic in his eyes, as well as the panic of the other passengers, made me realise that they were going to be in some massive trouble once they crashed. The plane crash was not done in the best way however and it did look a bit cheap at times. The shots were very shaky which showed how bad the weather was but it could have been a lot more dramatic.
Once the plane has crashed, reality kicks in for the men that survived and there are only eight of them. The crash was massive and destroyed nearly everything that had been on board so the men are left in a very bad situation, especially as they are in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. Passengers and crew are dead all over the place and the surviving men have to figure out how the hell they're going to get home. To begin with, the weather conditions and upcoming blizzards are the main concern but as soon as night falls, the wolves come out to play. Aggressive and annoyed wolves begin to kill off the men one by one, not wanting to be threatened and the group realise that they have a massive battle on their hands.
For the main part of the film, there is a very small cast. With only eight men surviving, it gives the film a chance to explore a couple of minor sub-plots regarding their lives back home but this never overshadows the main story. The sub-plot with John's wife was a nice touch to add in as it gave the film a bit of romance. Without this aspect, the film would have just been one massive adventure and with not a lot for girls who aren't into this kind of thing. A small amount of added romance widened the audience by a lot which could only do good things for the ratings as well as the takings.
Out of this small cast, I only knew who two of the actors were; Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney but this wasn't a bad thing. While Liam Neeson plays leading man John, the other men are focused on nearly as much. Playing the leader of the group, John is a very demanding and headstrong man who knows what he is doing. Although this is partly down to his job which he obviously knows really well, he is also calm and collected in a bad situation which many of the other men aren't. Neeson plays the role perfectly and is just the right amount of cool and authoritive when needed. At the same time, he is also really likable as a character even when he is being tough. Even though he is the biggest name in the cast, he doesn't completely steal the show which was a good thing,
While the characters in the group of surviving men were quite clichéd, I didn't mind. Yes, there could have been a little more originality and diversity when it came to the character's personalities but the ones that were there made the film interesting and exciting. Dermot Mulroney is someone I have loved in everything I have seen him in so far and The Grey is no exception. His performance is quiet and subdued but a well written character to complement Neeson's character. The banter between the group was great to watch and I liked getting to know a little more about each of them as the film went on.
As scary as the wolves were, they could have been better. Their size alone was one of the scariest things about them as there was something quite unnatural about the pack. Never have I seen a wolf (apart from crazy werewolves in the Twilight films) as big as these. The wolves are also sly and cunning, clever in the way they act and they did seem to be able to outsmart a group of men. The dark scenery and the contrast in their colour with the snow was a good thing though as it showed them dominant in their natural habitat.
The story is exciting and fast paced and considering the film is close to two hours long, this was a very good thing. Nothing every drags in the story as something is always happening whether it be the wolves coming back or the men getting to know each other better. The Grey has a great mix of adventure and thrills as well as some softer, more tender moments so there was a really good range of emotions being felt while I watched it. I wasn't quite ready for how much gore there was in this film but I am not against it at all. I actually think that the gore was really well done and very realistic so it was only a plus point for the film in my eyes.
Something that has to be said about this film is the cinematography. With scenes of remote Alaska, the film takes us on a journey of terror and panic as the blizzards kick in. The men already have a lot to deal with considering the wolves killing them off and having barely any supplies and then they have to deal with a vast amount of land to cover as well. I loved seeing these crazy snowy scenes and apparently, none of them were shot with green screens or special effects which if true, are very impressive. As well as the snow scenes, there are some amazingly stunning views of Alaska from different sides which were great to see. This change in scenery broke up the monotony of seeing so much white all of the time.
While I didn't know what to expect from this one, I ended up loving it. If you like films like Into The Wild, you will probably like this one as well.
Following on from the high-octane double-whammy that was Smokin' Aces then The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan has returned here to the slightly grittier pastures of his 2002 film, Narc. A move which, in many ways, seems to denote a return to form in subject matter, character development, storytelling, cinematography, tension... and many other important filmmaking facets. In fact, The Grey is so good it made me wonder why he even bothered with those previous titles in the first place. Not that either of them are particularly bad as such (I'd go so far as to say I enjoyed The A-Team), but when you're capable of making films like this, surely those other films pale in comparison? What am I saying; there's absolutely no doubt at all, those other films definitely do pale in comparison.
Alone, aching and ready to die, Liam Neeson's Ottway - fantastically performed, along with the rest of the excellent cast - is the man whose job it is to protect the oil workers of an Alaskan rig from the man-eating wolves that surround it. So when, on their seasonal journey home, the plane crashes and kills the majority of people on board, Ottway is the man the remaining passengers must turn to in order to have any chance of surviving the cold, harsh, wolf-infested wilderness. Never destined to be easy, their journey south is made all the more difficult by thigh-deep snows, impending blizzards, fraught nerves and the possibility that, instead of moving away from it, they could actually be headed toward the wolves' den...
The first ten minutes of this film had me very worried indeed. Sort of a mash of stall-setting sequences, out of narrative order and poetically narrated by Neeson's troubled and desperate main character, I was not enjoying it at all. However, by the end of this opening, it had become clear to me that the tone was not yet quite being set; we were merely being introduced to the character, which was fine by me. Once this is all out of the way, from the moment the group boards the flight home (as it were), this is a wonderful movie. The plane crash sequence grabs you by the throat and is the ultimate example of what this film has to offer. Tying together some fantastic film editing by Roger Barton and Jason Hellman along with the amazing work of the sound department (led by sound designer Bob Kellough), it's a viscerally exciting sequence that I defy anyone to not be sucked in by.
However, The Grey is not without its issues. The film is guilty of being somewhat implausible in places - something that was probably very difficult to avoid, but is still a little bit distracting. The various characters that inevitably meet their fate are picked off one-by-one in a series of set pieces increasingly as frustrating as the teenage girl who runs upstairs in the trashy horror flick. None of the men seem capable of heeding Ottway's advice at any point, leading them to be vulnerable in situations that could have been more cleverly written. Along with this, the special effects on the wolves are not fantastic so, while most of the scenes involving them are brilliantly tense and at times truly shocking, there are a couple of times where this takes you out of the moment.
None of which is enough to take away from the fact that this is, in the main, a marvellous movie to behold. Some moments are so jolting (both wolf attacks and transitions from dream sequences) that they really convince you of the events that are unfolding. Added to this, with theories of 'purgatory' and other sub-textual ideas being suggested, there is plenty here to warrant repeat viewings. I've always been a big fan of films that are open to audience interpretation, and The Grey has the rather rare distinction of being able to fit that bill without being in any way pretentious or having to compromise in its story or characters in order to do so. Great stuff.
I saw a trailer for this film and decided straight away that I wanted to see it at the cinema. The main reason I had for seeing the film was that Liam Neeson was the main character and I am quite a fan of his. I also thought it looked like quite an intense film and something a bit different to the usual thriller.
The film is directed by Joe Carnahan and is based on a novel called 'Ghost Walker' written by Ian McKenzie. I have not read the book but after having seen the film would be tempted to read it. It was released to UK cinemas on 27th January and no DVD release date is confirmed yet.
John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works alongside an American oil drilling team in Alaska killing the wolves that threaten to kill them. When the team depart the plane that is carrying them crashes killing most passengers. The survivors then get together and begin to plan how they will survive and get to safety. However a bigger threat presents itself in form of a pack of wolves which threaten the group and prove to be man killers.
The film follows the men who gradually weaken in their fight against the wolves and their mission to find civilisation. Ottway is quickly identified as the leader of the group which also bring forth a sub-story which is his difficulties with another group member John Diaz (Frank Grillo) who refuses to be led despite recognising that Ottway has a vast knowledge on how to deal with the wolves. The plot allows time to show a friendship developing between the men and gives the audience chance to identify with each character.
There is also a background story in form of Ottway's disjointed flash-backs of his wife which tend to come in during the most frightening moments. These memories are eventually pieced together and concluded at the end of the film.
As you can see from the 5 stars I have given this film I really enjoyed it. One of the main reasons was that it was unlike any film I had seen before, it is unusual to come across a modern day thriller that takes you back to the basic concept of man vs animal. I regularly see films that are man vs alien or police vs criminal etc, however this was different. The plot was extremely fast paced which I thought suited the film perfectly, as the men are literally in a race against time to survive. The fast-paced nature of the plot ensured that the audience felt that rush too. I liked the fact that the plot focussed on the main subject matter which was the threat of the wolves. This subject took up 80% of the film, with only a small part being allowed for the sub-stories, thus not allowing the sub-stories to detract from what the film is actually about.
I did feel the sub-stories were necessary though. The fact that the film allowed for time to show the relationships developing between the men really added to the film, and forced me as a viewer to relate to each character. This bond that the film creates between the viewer and the characters really gets you involved and personally made me really want the men to survive. It also allowed the characters to fully form as real people, making it much more believable. There is one scene where the men are sat around the fire and they talk about the people they care about at home, this not only reminds you that they do have families at home just like everyone else, but also makes you pity their situation and want to urge them to pull through.
I also appreciated the sub-story involving Ottway's visions of his wife, again this added to the film a lot without actually taking up too much time or drawing too much attention from the main storyline. It also added a bit of romance which otherwise the film was lacking. I don't tend to like romance films, however feel that almost every film benefits from some sort of romance even if it is just a hint of it (which in this case it is)
I liked how the story presented so many complications during their journey which they had to overcome. This made it into more of an adventure and kept things interesting. The film was made to be extremely intense, just as the trailer suggested. There were several very jumpy moments where you would literally jump out of your seat. I really liked this and it made the watching experience very fun, and really made you get involved and feel like you were there. For this reason I would say that the film most definitely fits into the thriller genre. The story genuinely gripped me and in the end I was so engrossed that I found myself genuinely rooting for each character in their fight for survival. I also found myself getting emotional at certain parts. In my opinion this is a great thing for a film to achieve and really makes a film worth watching. I wont give anything away but the ending is slightly abrupt which some critics have used as a negative against the film, however I think it is still conclusive and anyone who has watched the film properly should be able to work out what happens without the film spelling it out.
As I've mentioned in previous reviews I'm not a fan of gory films, and I must warn other viewers this film is gory as some victims are claimed by the wolves. However the gore was never prolonged nor over-done, so even I managed to watch without getting too distressed. I also felt the gore that was shown was necessary to highlight how savage the wolves were so was therefore necessary.
Although the film plot sounds relatively straightforward, it still manages to deal with some very complex issues, mainly that of death. The film isn't depressing though, yet it gives you a real close up view of the feeling associated with death and the feelings experienced when you think you are going to die. This involvement with feelings made the film much deeper than the simple man vs wolf bloodbath that it could have been.
The only cast member I recognised in this film was Liam Neeson who was the protagonist. As I said earlier I am quite a fan of Liam Neeson and have appreciated all of his films. This one did not disappoint, in fact I would go as far as saying it was one of his best performances yet. He was extremely convincing and delivered each line and performance in such a natural way that it was hard to believe it was acted. He never looked like he was trying hard or over-acting.
The other cast members were also convincing and I was particularly impressed by the deliverance of the character Frank Grillo by John Diaz. I would hope to see him in more films in the future. I felt the film was cast well and the actors worked well together, although none were quite as good as Neeson, however this didn't take anything away from the film as he was the main character.
I think all the roles within the film were challenging and the actors were required to act in a variety of situations including being terrified which is often badly acted as there is a tendency to over-act in scary situations which can come across as fake. I felt all the actors gave a convincing performance in these situations.
The film was produced very well, particularly when I found out that not a single scene was filmed in Alaska. The set was incredibly realistic and I never saw anything that looked fake or 'set-like'. The set was very important to the film as it heavily relied on the atmosphere created by the never ending snowy distance, which is one of the main reasons for the panic and isolation that the characters feel. The wolves are also of course computer generated, and were quite realistic, yet did look slightly computerised at times which reminded me that it is a film and not real, which was a shame.
I was relieved that the film wasn't 3D because although it may have suited 3D quite well, I personally find it annoying and having seen it in 2D I think this was enough to make you feel involved and like you were there, therefore there was no need to add 3D effects.
I can't really remember the background music in detail, however I do remember that the music played during the most frightening scenes highlighted the terror, therefore were well selected. At the same time the music played during the more calm scenes (such as Ottways memories of his wife) were very complimentary and added to the emotions I was feeling.
This is a thriller in the genuine sense of the word, however also takes on a more complex emotional element. This for me made it very enjoyable and I'm already looking forward to seeing it again for this reason. I regularly enjoy films, yet rarely get this involved in a film and attached to its characters. A thriller really relies on the audience feeling what the characters feel, and this film achieves this perfectly therefore I think it deserves 5 stars and I would highly recommend it to everyone.