Aside from The Avengers, The Grey is the best movie of 2012 so far. No question.
There are many films about survival out there, and these movies usually leave you with a fulfilling conclusion where the hero succeeds and is happy at the end to be alive. And then there’s The Grey, which is one of the darkest, most hopeless films I’ve ever seen. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but let me tell you, you won’t turn it off and say, “Wow, that was inspirational.” Instead, you’ll probably say, “God, I want to go take a shower and then kill myself.”
The story takes place in Alaska after one of the worst plane crashes ever put to film. If you’re even slightly nervous about getting on a plane, never watch this film in your life. You will never get on a plane again. After said crash, Liam Neeson, who plays John Ottway, a character who has already attempted suicide (talk about an uplifting picture!), must try to keep the survivors of the plane alive as ravenous wolves pick them apart one by one. It’s a family movie! But seriously, what makes this film such a masterpiece is their discussions and interactions in the face of death. None of the survivors feel stereotypical or contrived and you really hope that at least some of them will make it to some sort of satisfying end. Again, I won’t spoil the conclusion, but, well, that hope isn’t met the way you might think.
Many of the film's detractors thought the movie itself didn’t match all the trailers that made it look like it would be an hour-and-a-half version of the Liam Neeson punching wolves to their death, a la a Chuck Norris fan’s wet dream. And those people have a point, as it’s not that kind of movie and the trailers were misleading. But now that it’s home on Blu-Ray and that knowledge is out there, I think it can fully be appreciated as the meditative film that it is, and it succeeds on every level. I absolutely adore this film.
It’s a true man vs. nature vs. faith kind of movie. Throughout, the characters, knowing that death is imminent, question their beliefs and feelings on what could be on the other side of the grey in that much deeper, more nebulous world that is the afterlife, or the lack thereof. I’ve really never seen so much atheism in a commercial film, and it’s actually pretty refreshing. Being a person of faith, it’s nice to see the other perspective in Hollywood. You don’t normally get to see that much gumption in a movie for the general public, which is why it was probably not received as well as it should have been. It was too deep for many, and not violent enough for the rest. It’s a thoroughly harrowing film that doesn’t leave much room for entertainment and fun, but if that’s your kind of movie, as it is for me, then you’ll love The Grey. Again, it’s best movie of the year. Outside of The Avengers, of course. But that movie was pretty much perfect. You can’t get any better than that.
Talking shit, drinking scotch, dissing Pauly Shore...this commentary has it all. And I wonder if I love the commentary so much because I love the movie so much, or because the commentary is just that good. Either way, it’s immensely entertaining, with director Joe Carnahan and editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellmann going through the movie scene-by-scene, just talking about life and the film in general, which is always my favorite kind of commentary -- a slice of life with a slice of the film. It’s so much better than overly celebratory (even though there’s plenty of celebration here, too) commentaries that don’t say anything at all. Joe Carnahan really hits the glass pretty hard during the almost two-hour running time, as by the end of it, he starts openly talking about who he disliked making the movie with. It’s enjoyable to say the least. The director doesn’t pull any punches.
The deleted scenes make up the rest of the special features, and while none of them are all that great -- they’re pretty much just a lot of more shots of how crippling the weather is—but they really don’t need to be all that great. The commentary itself is worth buying the Blu-Ray. If you like dark films, buy this flick.