Friday night is dinner and a movie date night for my husband and I; this past week it was my week to pick a movie and my selection…”The Grey”. I had originally picked “Man on a Ledge” because I like Sam Worthington but then when I realized “The Grey” came out on the same weekend it was an easy decision. I love Liam Neeson, I love wolves, I love survival stories and therefore I expected to love “The Grey.”
It was not what I expected but it was amazing and I did love it!
***Now Entering…a Spoiler Zone***
The movie starts out with a heartbroken John Ottway (Liam Neeson) working in the Alaskan arctic with a bunch of “ex-cons, fugitives, drifters, assholes; men unfit for mankind” and you expect that you aren’t going to like, or care about, any of the characters in the movie but you will…I promise. Ottway’s job is to protect those men from the wild predators of Alaska and we see that in one of the opening scenes when he hits a wolf with a sniper shot while the crew is working on the oil pipeline. He is conflicted about the death, you can see it in his eyes and in the way he touches and soothes the wolf as he dies. He killed the wolf not because he wanted to, but because he had to, to protect his men. It is a recurring theme throughout the movie.
The job is over…the men leave Alaska…the plane crashes…Ottway and survivors are stranded in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with no way to contact help…
It’s a formula we’ve seen dozens of times, only it’s not. In a formula movie like this the men have everything to live for because they have wives, children, families, friends, homes, and careers but remember these men are a bunch of “”ex-cons, fugitives, drifters, assholes; men unfit for mankind.”
They have nothing to live for but that doesn’t mean they want to die. This is where the movie enters the world of existentialism (in case you’re unclear…existentialism is “A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts”) and philosophy. It becomes deep and profound and inspiring while also sad and emotional. Remember those men we didn’t think we would care about? Well, we do care and we care a lot. We watch them form new friendships, struggle for survival, struggle with inner and personal demons, struggle with the wilderness and predators and struggle with their faith in God and the hereafter.
The ending leaves you with more questions than answers but those questions are the point of movie. It doesn’t wrap up with a pretty little bow and you don’t walk out of the theatre feeling great about yourself and all of mankind but you do have perspective and, if you are anything like me, you do have inspiration. I loved it.