The Grey, an action flick about seven men, stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after surviving a plane crash, only to have to deal with a pack of very hungry and very pissed off wolves who happen to be stalking them, may seem a bit nonsensical at first, but once we get in to the film and dig into the inevitably intense action of it all, in all its Jack London bravado, it is a quite enjoyable movie indeed. Starring everyone's favourite middle-aged badass Liam Neeson along with a gaggle of mostly little known actors who appear to look just like one another (enough so that when the wolves attack we are not sure at first who exactly is under attack) the film starts out in a pondering mode, but eventually just lets go of its inhibitions and tells the story of man versus nature in all its brutal guts and glory.
Sure, the film does tend to pontificate a bit too often with its meandering scenes of coming to grips with one's spiritual destiny that are liberally interspersed within the scenes of man versus the big bad wolf, but when seen as an allegory on the eternal struggle between man and beast (ie. wolves eating men, men eating wolves, howling at the goddammed moon, general mano y lobo paw and fistacuffs) the film takes proverbial flight as a kick ass now and take names never kind of action adventure story. We watch as this survivalist group (made up of mostly surly ex-cons working as drilling grunts in the Great White North) is systematically dwindled down one by one as the avenging wolves stake their own kickass claims. We watch as these men say goodbye to any futile thoughts of rescue or returning home and become either warriors of the woods or its fallen victims. We watch as man becomes beast and beast becomes even beastier. But allow me to put the hyperbole aside for a moment.
Now the film's premise may allude to not just the fiction of the aforementioned Mr. London, but also, in a way to Hitchcock's The Birds, but even with its allegorical pretensions intact (and its pseudo-spiritual rhetoric to boot), this is a movie about survival - and a relatively kickass one at that. I mean really, who doesn't love to see a man strap blades and broken bottles to his frozen knuckles and beat the crap out of some big Grey Wolves? Well, apparently many animal rights organizations including the always up-in-arms PETA. Not happy with the film's vilifying of the Grey Wolf (an animal recently kicked off the endangered list in the US) many have spoken out about the film's content. Not to necessarily defend the film or its director, first off the wolves in the movie are CGI wolves (though the wolf that our intrepid heroes are seen feasting on was an actual carcass bought from a local trader) and let's face it, they kick some serious ass (can we guess who the eventual victor of this battle royale is), but they are by no means the villains of our story. They are merely protecting their territory that these men inadvertently dropped into. But I suppose these are the potential hazards when telling a story such as this. Still, when the action is going (and not the pontificating), this action flick comes through in spades.