The Grey (USA 2012)

Director: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulrooney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson

Music: Marc Streitenfeld

Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi

Story: Ghost Walker - Ian MacKenzie Jeffers

Screenplay: Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, Joe Carnahan

Fact: Animal rights' group PETA encouraged a boycott of the film due to its depiction of the grey wolves in the film

Lie: The Alpha male in the pack was originally known as 'Wolfie Smith' in the screenplay

Time: 117 minutes

In one line: after a plane crashes in remote frozen region, its survivors are picked off by wolves.


John Ottway (a brilliant character name! - Neeson) is employed by an Alaskan oil company as a wolf killer. After reading a letter from his wife, he contemplates killing himself, but is saved by the howl of a distant wolf. Ottway sets out on a plane journey with some fellow workers including the spiritual Hendrick (Roberts) and bad-tempered ex-con Diaz (Grillo). The plane crashes in a remote, frozen area and the survivors struggle to contain the violent attacks of a pack of grey wolves. The small number of survivors grows ever shorter as the story progresses.....


An excellent little film. Shades of The Thing, Jaws and (bizarrely) Sands of the Kalahari (particularly the ending). There are also echoes of Jack London's short story To Light a Fire. Ottway and the survivors are picked off one by one by the almost supernatural pack of wolves, and it's a Nature payback movie, rather than a demonising of the often very scary creatures that inhabit the frozen wastes and the men's minds.

Neeson is excellent in what must have been a personally poignant role, and gives a lovely, melancholic performance reminiscent in some ways of his equally impressive role in long-forgotten British film Lamb. Director Carnahan's skilful direction keeps the action moving at just the right pace, and it's easily his best film since the greatly underrated Narc.

So nothing too revolutionary here, but a very well-crafted film with a nice spiritual and supernatural feel to it.

Apparently there's a splendid post-credits coda that I missed because the cinema I attended (The Odeon, Liverpool One) was fucking freezing, and I was shivering despite scarf, hat and gloves. One of the few times I haven't sat through to the very end of a film.

No matter: the eyes in the dark scene is already a classic.