If you, good reader, intend on seeing John Carnahan's THE GREY, please do not go into it expecting non-stop, blood-pumping, man-fist-on-wolf-face action; otherwise, you will surely be disappointed. However, that is not to say that this movie isn't striking in other ways.
With THE GREY, Director John Carnahan has fashioned an beautiful, dark, profound man vs. nature vs. beast tale. Liam Neeson gives one of his most subtle performances as a sharp shooter hired to keep hungry wolves from attacking the workers at an Alaska oil refinery. He and a handful of the refinery's employees get stranded out in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness after one of the most intense plane crash scenes that I have seen in a long while.
Frightened and unacquainted with the wild, the guys seemingly become the main focus of a pack of wolves that may or may not be "passing through." Fortunately for them, Neeson is well versed in the way of the wolf because of his job as a sharp shooter and soon becomes their very own "alpha male."
The similarities between the instinctive wolf pack and the raw nature of man is omnipresent and as the survivors press on, we get a little insight into who these guys are and what each of them are still fighting for. These are a couple of the many deep, poetic themes that Director John Carnahan puts upon and engages the audience with, taking this film far above any ordinary escapism.
To aid in taking this film above ordinary escapism is the talented cast who makes every line emotionally engaging: When they're laughing, we're laughing; when they're crying, we're crying, and so on. Combine this with Carnahan's ability to tell a story and the beautiful cinematography of it all and you get one of the most emotional and thought provoking films this year.
As for the ending: I know it has been getting a lot of heat from critics, but once I knew it was coming on, I could not pull my eyes away from the screen and I kept saying to myself "I hope it ends here; otherwise, where else would you end this film?" However, I have to admit that I am slightly disappointed with Carnahan's decision to add the last few seconds on after the credits. I think it ruins what the audience left to the imagination.