This review was written 2 years too late
Liam Neeson is box office, it seems. After a long and varied career in dull, apparently worthy roles, the past six or seven years has seen him gravitate towards simple action fare that seems to appeal to cinema-goers everywhere. “Taken“, “Unknown“, and “Clash of the Titans” are all far more fun than “Phantom Menace“, “Kingdom of Heaven” or all that Narnia nonsense. And he shows no signs of letting up. His recent “Non-Stop” and upcoming “Run All Night” together with a second sequel to “Taken” show a man in demand.
“The Grey” is more serious than some of these recent efforts, but no less entertaining for it. Neeson is Ottway, a solemn man tasked with protecting oil workers in Alaska from marauding wolves. When their plane goes down miles from anywhere, Ottway takes charge and tries to get them to safety.
As survival films go, it’s pretty familiar stuff – scant resources, survivor in-fighting, and a threat closing in – but director Joe Carnahan stops it from drifting into cheesiness. He balances macho posturing with some just about acceptable philosophical meanderings, splendidly orchestrated action scenes (the plane crash is particularly well handled), and some decent character depth for Neeson if not the others.
An enjoyable couple of hours, “The Grey” shows its metal by not compromising on its reality and selling out to audience-pleasing conclusions – though a misjudged post-credit sequence that stinks of studio interference disappoints. No reason not to see the film though – just turn it off when the credits roll.