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The Grey – Live And Die On This Day

Some of the scenes in this movie were so savage and cutting-edge I had to take a break for a bit. If you’ve never known what it’s like to be stranded in the Alaskan wilderness and hunted down by a pack of wolves and want to vicariously experience that, then watch Liam Neeson kill it in this one.


The Grey (2012) is directed by Joe Carnahan and stars Liam Neeson as the main cast member along with Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, etc.

Neeson plays an Alaskan sharpshooter named John Ottway who leads a brutal five-week shift at an oil refinery with other men.

After a long period of work they plan to fly back home for a resting vacation.

While heading to their destination on plane, a menacing and wild storm causes the aircraft to crash land somewhere in a remote, unknown area of Alaska with freezing cold temperatures.

Ottway, along with other survivors of the accident, must now work together to form a plan and strategy to escape the painfully chilly environment and make it back to civilization.

They begin to realize over time that it won’t just be mother nature they’re fighting, but also a pack of hungry aggressive wolves that mean to track them down and pick them off one by one.

Photo Credit: Open Road Films

Gorgeous Cinematography & Soothing Soundtrack

The way the director established the setting and background of the Alaskan wilderness was done spectacularly.

I became visually stimulated and entranced just by the sheer beauty and scope of the environment.

From the sharp trees enveloped by white snow, to the cold air the characters were inhaling and exhaling, to the gorgeous displays of the rivers and forests they were trekking along, the cinematography was handled and executed phenomenally well for the viewer.

The setting particularly was introduced in a bleak fashion as dark and grim when introducing Ottway, the main character.

This is good as it shows to the viewer what to expect when moving forward along with the story.

When it comes to the music and soundtrack, almost every single melody and tone being played added immensely to the struggle and strife that the banding survivors were going through.

Not to give too much, but there were some moments in the beginning and middle act that were enhanced and given such a good dramatic and beautiful effect when the music complemented the acting.

I felt deep chills down my spine, some good and some bad, when the score mingled itself together with the action and dialogue.

Effective Writing

The best and most effective aspect of the film for me would be the writing and dialogue.

Props to the people responsible for handling the screenplay, they did an excellent job with establishing the characters and getting me invested in their personal history while they were battling the cold and wolves.

I especially became enthralled with that unique and wonderful phrase Ottway uttered to himself:

“Once more into the fray, into the last good fight I’ll ever know. Live and die on this day, live and die on this day.”

– John Ottway (The Grey)

Such compelling words along with the background music to add dramatic effect were very engaging.

Throughout the plot, I was intensely amused with the way the men were conversing among one another.

Some scenes included humorous banter. Others were very serious and threatening when agitation spread among them.

But the best thing I liked about the dialogue in this case was the heart-to-heart moments the characters had with each other when gathered around campfires.

Knowing that death was all around them and that at any moment they could have been ripped to pieces, they still found a way to make each other laugh.

Even being surrounded by man-eating wolves at every corner and flank, these men managed to have moments where they authentically connect with each other by telling of their personal stories and families back home.

I got to know these characters on a more insightful level and became increasingly invested over time with the hardship they were enduring.

That’s the power of great writing, it lures the viewer in with hypnotic lines that evoke true meaning and purpose, and then captures them with an even greater hold by having us sympathize with them.

Photo: LD Entertainment

Enduring Performances

All the actors practically did a good job with their performances. Liam Neeson, expectedly, gets the most credit.

His stoic and grave attitude he exemplified really served to make the movie dark and shadowy.

The way he took charge of the group and set out instructions and techniques to defend themselves from the wolves made him look like the fatherly leader and competent woodsman the others relied upon and simply couldn’t do without.

Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulraney as well gave effective and convincing deliveries.

Grillo’s use of confrontational banter at certain times with the other characters helped make the movie more lighthearted and less restrictive to dampness and fear of the surrounding threats.

There was one character’s actions, Hernandez (played by Ben Hernandez Bray), that kind of didn’t make sense though.

At around the beginning act when the surviving men first realized that they were being tracked down by wolves, they implemented shifts where one person would keep watch while the others got some rest.

One of the men that had their turn, idiotically enough, found it a good idea to stray away from the group and go into some far away area to take a leak.

Unsurprisingly, he was ambushed by the pack and brutally killed.

Well, what did he expect?

He voluntarily opened himself up to slaughter in such a stupendous move to venture off into a distant area away from help.

That’s about the only bad thing that I noticed from the performances. I just felt like I had to get that one off my chest.

LD Entertainment/Open Road Films

Final Thoughts

The Grey is a beautifully portrayed and effectively written Adventure Drama.

It was intense, fast-paced, and fierce.

Wolves usually don’t and aren’t known to attack people, but this movie provides a decent enough reason why they are: They’re defending their territory from unknown invaders.

These wolves looked super intimidating and ferocious.

And I wouldn’t wanna be stuck in some outsider, barren Alaskan wasteland with these animals depicted here.

But if I was, I’d most definitely want Liam Neeson to be there with me.

I would totally admit that I’m scared shitless, but at least I have the man from Taken backing me up.

FP Score – Praiseworthy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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