Liam Neeson’s current standing as Hollywood’s most awesome old man action hero, has gone from curiosity, to legit badass, to self parody, to just plain old accepted and expected. The Taken series just keeps rolling on, even when they give it other names, like Run All Night and Non-Stop. I’ve seen the first two Taken movies and thought they were fun enough. But nothing to make me a Liam Neeson action fan. But I have always been curious about one of his earlier movies in this latest stage of his career. The Grey. Liam Neeson fighting wolves… How could I not be intrigued by that?
Working on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere Alaska, Ottway (Neeson) spends his days protecting workers from wild wolves that seem to constantly stalk the facility. One night, with a suicide note written and the barrel of his wolf hunting rifle in his mouth, it appears to be curtains for Ottway. But he finds a reason to push on and decides to live a little longer. But maybe that’s not to up to him.
Boarding a plane full of other workers from the plant, Ottway is headed for civilization in Anchorage. But half way through the flight, shit breaks bad and the plane begins to be torn to pieces in midair. Ottway passes out before the plane hits the ground, and when he wakes, he’s one of only half a dozen or so survivors. Now, this ragtag group is stranded in a snow covered wilderness, and surrounded by a pack of wolves. It’s up to Ottway to figure out a way to get them all out alive.
First off, this is not the over the top, cartoony action of the Taken movies. Sure, Neeson is a bit of a superman who can shoot a wolf at full speed hundreds of metres away. And he has a McGyver like knack for fashioning survival tools out of nothing. But The Grey manages to create a real level of threat and danger that the Taken series never even hints at. Ottway, and the men he’s trying to lead, are constantly in what seems like very real, very immediate danger. And that’s all thanks to the location shooting.
Shot in the actual Canadian wilderness, covered in actual snow, and even including a scene shot in an actual snow storm, The Grey is relentless. If you like Liam Neeson the old man action hero, there is a lot here for you to love. If you think the idea of the Liam Neeson the old man, action caricature is a bit much, and like your action a little more real and gritty, The Grey definitely has a lot here for you to love.