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The Grey – Courtney Says

My first thought about The Grey went something like this: “Wow… I had no idea this would be so… emo.”  The overly emotional scenes, monologues and voiceovers were wholly unexpected.  I had thought I was about to watch an action packed man vs. animal grudge match in the Alaskan wilds.  While there was a decent amount of that, I wasn’t prepared for the sentimentality, for the generally sensitive treatment of death, albeit usually gruesome.  The combination of these two story elements makes for an incongruous and, to me, not very successful film.

The filmmakers seem intent on delving into emotional truths about life, death and human motivation.  While the emotions are exaggerated by the circumstances of the story, and the dialogue is often heavy-handed, the filmmakers deliver these scenes with a respectable amount of subtlety.  In other words, I can accept and even sometimes appreciate these elements of the film, but these moments are crammed inside what is essentially a very silly and unbelievable action horror flick.  For instance, the behavior of the pack of wolves is so far from realistic that I lost all sense of suspense. Rather than being menacing, these animals became almost comic relief. Yes, some will argue that, like the rest of the film, the wolves are intentionally exaggerated to heighten the experience.  One might even point out that the filmmakers draw repeated parallels between the group dynamics of the wolves and the humans.  But none of this changes the result for me.

I believe this film ultimately fails because it’s trying to accomplish too much.  The emotional elements are left flaccid by the silly action, and the action is chopped up by the emo story telling. The one shining element is Liam Neeson’s performance.  He is completely captivating as the broody, world-weary leader of the pack. It is his performance that compels you to keep watching to the bitter end, and it’s his performance that makes this film almost worth watching.  Almost.  C


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