Home Video Review - The Grey


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  • Liam Neeson in The Grey
  • The Grey

Liam Neeson's near perfect thriller hits home video.
The Grey (2012)
Joe Carnahan
Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo
Release Date:
Age Rating:

When an oil drilling team crash lands in Alaska on their way home, the survivors are forced to head south if they stand any chance of surviving. The inhospitable landscape holds dangers enough, until they find they also have a pack of territorial wolves on their trail.

We were fairly blown away by Joe Carnahan’sThe Grey when it hit cinemas with barely a whisper in early 2012. A tense and powerfully dramatic thriller with some great action set pieces, it hearkened back to Carnahan’s blistering 2002 effort Narc while neatly side-stepping the overblown excess of Smokin’ Aces and the underrated The A-Team.

The Grey refuses to become the film you expect it to. From the off, there’s a lyrical quality to the production, borne along by a marvellous voice over from leading man Liam Neeson that manages to be both poetic and suitably terse. And when this group of ruffians and rogues find themselves downed and without a chance of rescue, you might expect it to devolve into a bunch of tough guy stereotypes. But while Carnahan throws out some awkward dialogue there’s also real sentiment here – with an early emotional moment elevating the film far beyond a mere survival thriller.

The cast of The Grey
The cast of The GreyEnlarge Enlarge

Liam Neeson is perfectly cast here – making us thankful that first choice Bradley Cooper bowed out of the production. He brings a gruff physicality to the role that’s perfect for a hunter character who has all but given up on the world, only grudgingly accepting the care of a group of unlikeable or downright dangerous men.

But Carnahan takes these stock character and forces the audience to see them as people, making you feel their inevitable loss and even dealing with their demise in a more human way that we’re used to. The writer/director - who penned the script with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, who also wrote the original short story the film is based on, adds a subjective tone through arresting dream sequences and the continued voice over. And the setting is equally captivating, shot for real in isolated British Columbia.

The supporting players are routinely excellent (especially Frank Grillo) and the action moments are both exciting and terrifying. The Grey may falter a little with rather too many CG wolves and some may find the dialogue overly contrived but we think it’s one of the finest thrillers of the year, right up to its mesmerising and narratively perfect ending.

Don't mess with the Neeson
Don't mess with the NeesonEnlarge Enlarge

Extras: The main extra is a feature lengthed commentary with writer director Joe Carnahan and editing team Roger Barton and Jason Hellman. Carnahan has never been one to self censor in commentaries and the same holds true for The Grey, as he references his difficult time with producers and even a tough relationship with one of the main actors, who goes unnamed. Barton is a lively companion with Hellman the quietest of the three but there’s little to no dead air as the trio enjoy a few glasses of scotch during the film, with Carnahan in particular getting a little sozzled by the end. And if you’re hoping for some more explanation of that final, post credit scene you won’t find it here, though there is a nice shout out to filmmaker Jamin Winans, who supplied a track from his score for Click fave Ink for a very small fee.

Sadly, the only other extras you’ll find are six extended and deleted scenes with little to really expand on what is already in the movie. There are also a bunch of trailer but none for The Grey itself. Extras are the same on blu-ray and DVD.

The home video package may not be exactly feature packed but The Grey remains one of our favourite films of 2012 and is an essential purchase when it hits DVD and blu-ray on May 21st.

The Grey blu-ray pack shot
The Grey blu-ray pack shotEnlarge Enlarge

9 Stars: Recommended
Home Video Review - The Grey on ClickOnline.com
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