The Grey (film)

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The Grey
The Grey Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Produced by Jules Daly
Joe Carnahan
Ridley Scott
Mickey Liddell
Screenplay by Joe Carnahan
Ian MacKenzie Jeffers
Based on Ghost Walker 
by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers
Starring
Music by Marc Streitenfeld
Cinematography Masanobu Takayanagi
Edited by Roger Barton
Jason Hellmann
Production
  company
LD Entertainment
Scott Free Productions
Inferno Distribution
Distributed by Open Road Films
Universal Studios
Release date(s)
  • December 11, 2011 (2011-12-11) (Austin)
  • January 27, 2012 (2012-01-27) (United States)
Running time 117 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $77.3 million[2]

The Grey is a 2011 American thriller co-written, produced and directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney. It is based on the short story "Ghost Walker" by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Carnahan.

The story follows a number of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who are forced to survive using little more than their wits, as a pack of gray wolves stalk them amidst mercilessly cold weather. The film received positive reviews and did well at the box office, grossing $77.3 million.

Plot[edit]

John Ottway (Liam Neeson) works in Alaska, killing wolves that threaten an oil drilling team. On his last day on the job, he shoots one—as it dies, mortally wounded and heavily breathing, Ottway approaches and gently strokes it. Ottway that evening writes to his wife, Ana (Anne Openshaw), a letter "without purpose" explaining his plans to commit suicide. However, at the decisive moment, he hears a distant wolf howl and he doesn't follow through. The next day, the plane carrying the team, including Ottway, crashes in a blizzard. Ottway sees a vision of his wife urging him not to feel afraid, and awakens to find one of the team, Lewenden (James Badge Dale), mortally wounded. Ottway calms him, and Lewenden dies. Talget (Dermot Mulroney) insists on saying "some words" for those who died. Taking charge, Ottway sets the survivors the task of building a fire. While doing this, he discovers a corpse, and is attacked by the gray wolf feeding on it. After saving Ottway, the group surmises that they are in the wolves' territory. They decide to take turns keeping watch for the predators.

Later, Hernandez (Ben Bray) falls asleep on watch and is killed by two wolves, and the group discovers his body in the morning. Ottway suggests they leave the crash site because the wolves are defending their territory, but Diaz (Frank Grillo) questions his leadership. While searching for the wallets of their deceased colleagues, intending to return them to their families, Diaz finds an emergency wrist watch containing a radio beacon. The group then leaves the site. While walking through the snow, Flannery (Joe Anderson) falls behind, and is killed by wolves. One of the group sees a pack of wolves approaching, and the survivors run for the trees, lighting a fire in an attempt to ward off their attackers. The group sets about producing makeshift weaponry, and Diaz threatens Ottway with a knife, but is disarmed. An omega wolf sent by the pack leader to test them attacks, but they kill and roast it for food. Diaz, as a symbol of defiance, cuts the head off the cooking corpse and throws the head back at the pack, a move noted by the group as unwise, as wolves are the only creatures known to take revenge. Howls erupt all around them and then die down. While sitting around the fire, Diaz tells the group of his atheist beliefs, and Talget states he believes in God. Diaz scoffs, "That fairy tale!" Ottway states he is also an atheist, but wishes he could believe. He also recites a simple four-line untitled poem written by his father: "Once more into the fray...". A blizzard approaches, and the survivors set to maintaining the fire.

In the morning, Burke (Nonso Anozie), who had been suffering from hypoxia, is found dead. The remaining survivors leave the camp, and travel to the edge of a steep canyon. Hendrick secures a line across, and Diaz and Ottway traverse the canyon. Talget, however, is afraid of heights, and loses his glasses. Having been bitten on the hand by the omega wolf sent to test the men, it begins to bleed again, while his foot becomes caught on the rope, which breaks. He falls to the ground and is dragged away by wolves. Diaz attempts to save Talget but fails and injures his knee. The three remaining survivors continue and arrive at a river. There, Diaz explains that he would rather die there than return home to a meaningless life. He refuses offers of help and asks Ottway whether death would bring him comfort. They part company, and Ottway and Hendrick continue on together. Left alone, Diaz hears the wolves approaching. Further long the river, Ottway and Hendrick are set upon by wolves once again. In an attempt to flee, Hendrick falls into the river and is trapped beneath the surface when his foot becomes wedged between two rocks. Ottway attempts to save him but is unsuccessful, and Hendrick drowns.

Ottway, cold and wet, continues on alone. He pauses, and curses God as a fraud, and looking at the sky he demands: "Do something!" Exhausted, and at his wit's end, he stops walking and begins going through the collected wallets of the others seeing photos of them and their loved ones and carefully lays them in a small pile. A noise in the trees draws his attention to the wolves that begin to appear from the treeline, and he realizes he has stumbled right into the wolves' den. Surrounded by the pack, he looks at his wife's photo in his wallet and fades into a memory of her; it is revealed that she is in a hospital bed dying of a terminal illness, explaining why his letter was "without purpose". As the alpha wolf approaches him, he places on the emergency wristwatch and arms himself with a knife and shards of glass from mini whiskey bottles taped to his hand. After reciting his father's poem once more, he lunges at the alpha wolf. In the post-credits scene, Ottway and the alpha are shown heavily breathing, with Ottway's head atop the alpha.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The Grey reunited director Joe Carnahan with producers Ridley Scott and Tony Scott (credited as executive producer) as well as actor Liam Neeson, who collaborated on the 2010 action film The A-Team. The film initially imagined a much-younger lead character and Bradley Cooper, who also worked with Carnahan on The A-Team, was cast in the lead role, but he was eventually replaced by Neeson.[3] Filming began in January 2011 and ended in March. The film was shot in forty days.[4] Though set in Alaska, the film was shot in Smithers, British Columbia, with several scenes being shot at the Smithers Regional Airport.[5] According to Empire magazine, in the climactic scene in which Neeson's character pens a letter to his wife, Carnahan urged Neeson to "channel his grief" over the death of his own wife, Natasha Richardson.[6] Carnahan disclosed, in a Q&A session following an early screening at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, that he had shot an alternative ending (that he'd never intended to use) showing Neeson battling the alpha wolf. It will be included in deleted cuts.[7]

Release[edit]

The world premiere of The Grey took place on January 11, 2012, at the Regal Cinemas Theatre in Los Angeles.[8] The film was released nationwide on January 27, 2012.[9][unreliable source?]

Marketing[edit]

Promotion for The Grey in part targeted Christian groups by issuing a "film companion", which highlighted the spiritual value of the film.[10] Marketing also partnered with The Weather Network to highlight the hazardous filming conditions.[10] Open Road Films incorporated comments tweeted by film critics to promote the film in the third trailer for The Grey. This was the first time tweets from and Twitter handles for professional critics had been used in a film trailer.[11]

Music[edit]

The Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by Marc Streitenfeld
Released February 14, 2012 (2012-02-14)
Length 35:09
Label Lakeshore
Producer Marc Streitenfeld

The score for The Grey was released on CD February 14, 2012. A digital version available for download was released on January 24, 2012.[12]

No. Title Length
1. "Writing the Letter"   2:00
2. "Suicide"   1:44
3. "You Are Gonna Die"   3:14
4. "Walking"   1:45
5. "Eyes Glowing"   1:25
6. "The Morning After"   2:57
7. "Collecting Wallets"   1:53
8. "Wife Memory"   1:09
9. "Life and Death"   2:52
10. "Lagging Behind"   1:53
11. "Running from Wolves"   1:46
12. "Daughter Appears"   2:13
13. "Last Walk"   2:33
14. "Memorial"   3:41
15. "Alpha"   2:16
16. "Into the Fray"   1:49

Reception[edit]

The film earned generally positive reviews from critics with particular praise going to Neeson's performance. As of November 19, 2012, The Grey holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[13] based on 183 reviews, stating: "The Grey is an exciting tale of survival, populated with fleshed-out characters and a surprising philosophical agenda."[13] Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars,[14] and wrote that the unrelenting harshness of The Grey so affected him that he departed the screening of a different movie on the same day: "It was the first time I've ever walked out of a film because of the previous film. The way I was feeling in my gut, it just wouldn't have been fair to the next film." The film also earned a place on A.O. Scott's list of the year's ten best films,[15] and Slate film critic Dana Stevens included it in her runners-up for the year's best movies.[16] Film Critic Richard Roeper also had The Grey in his top 10 best movies of 2012 list, placing it at number 3.[17]

Dissenters' reviews tend to focus on the film's abrupt ending and perceive the emotional and philosophical undertones as unnecessary. Siobhan Synnot of The Scotsman gave the film two stars, commenting that "On the down side, there's a lot of dull pretentious philosophizing about the heartlessness of nature and God. On the up side, you get to see a man punch a wolf in the face."[18] Some reviewers and analysts have described the film as having an atheist theme, due to characters such as John Ottway (Liam Neeson) pleading for divine help but not getting any.[19][20][21]

Controversy[edit]

On January 19, 2012, British Columbia's The Province featured an article about the movie's buying four wolf carcasses from a local trapper, two for props for the film and two wolves for the cast to eat.[5] This angered environmentalists and animal activists, who were already irate that the film depicts wolves in a negative light, specifically at a time when grey wolves had recently been removed from the Endangered Species Act in many western American states.[22][23] In response to the portrayal of wolves in the film, groups including PETA and WildEarth Guardians started drives to boycott the film.[24][25] Open Road responded by placing a fact sheet about the gray wolf on the film's official website, with cooperation from the Sierra Club.[25] Carnahan responded by downplaying the significance of the violent wolves portrayed in the film, instead highlighting the significance of man's internal struggle for survival.[24]

Awards[edit]

The film was nominated in 2012 for the International Wolf Center's Scat Award in Scare Tactics and Silly Information categories,[26] being granted said distinction in 2013.[27]

See also[edit]

  • Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Grey". The Numbers. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Grey". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (September 3, 2010). "Liam Neeson replaces much-younger Bradley Cooper in survival thriller 'The Grey'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 14, 2012). "No 'Grey' areas for Carnahan". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Schaefer, Glen (January 19, 2012). "Method motivates Liam Neeson, 'The Grey' cast to dine on wolf meat". The Province. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Liam Neeson Used Grief Over Wife's Death To Fuel Emotional Scene In 'The Grey'". starpulse. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Joe Carnahan Talks About the Alternate Ending He Shot for 'The Grey'". The Moveable Fest. January 30, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Stars at the LA Premiere of 'The Grey'". Zimbio. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "The Grey Gets A Release Date". ScreenRant.com. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Stewart, Andrew (January 26, 2012). "The Grey looks to lead box office pack". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Dickey, Josh L. "They're blurbing tweets now? Yes they are". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". http://www.apple.com/itunes/. Apple Inc. Feb 14, 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "The Grey". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 25, 2012). "The Grey". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ Scott, A.O. (December 14, 2012). "25 Favorites From a Year When 10 Aren’t Enough". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ Stevens, Dana (December 19, 2012). "The 10 Best Movies of 2012". Slate. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ Richard Roeper's top ten best movies of 2012 on YouTube
  18. ^ Synnot, Siobhan (January 22, 2012). "Film reviews: A Useful Life, The Grey, A Monster In Paris, Intruders". The Scotsman. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ Morris, Shane (February 2, 2012). "'The Grey': Liam Neeson's bleak atheist parable". BreakPoint. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Camouflaged Atheism! (User Reviews)". Yahoo! Movies. March 25, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  21. ^ "THE GREY – A MOVIE REVIEW". The Trent Wilke. April 2, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  22. ^ Nasaw, Daniel. "Congress strips gray wolf endangered species protection". BBC. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Salazar Announces Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes, Removal from Threatened and Endangered Species List". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Lynch, Rene (January 28, 2012). "'The Grey' slammed for 'bloodthirsty' portrayal of wolves". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b Robinson, Jessica (January 26, 2012). "Groups boycott 'The Grey' with Liam Neeson for portrayal of wolves". KPLU-FM. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  26. ^ "The Scat Awards". International Wolf Center. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ Tubbs, Nancy. "Nomination for The Scat Awards". International Wolf Center. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]