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Review: The Grey

While the trailers are selling it as something of a horror/action hybrid, The Grey is actually a poetic, contemplative, economically-told story of survival. It’s not just about man against nature; it’s about the nature of man. 

Liam Neeson’s Ottway works as a professional wolf-killer, protecting oil drillers from the ravenous Alaskan packs. He loses himself among the various social outcasts and reprobates employed by the company, hoping the solitude will ease the pain of his wife’s death–an event that has shaken his faith. He seems to still believe in God, occasionally pleading with Him, arguing with Him, condemning Him–he cannot reconcile the suffering he sees all around him with the idea of a loving God. In his despair, he considers taking his own life, even though he no longer believes in the promise of an afterlife. 

Ottway’s plans are altered when his airplane to Anchorage crashes, leaving only seven (himself included) alive. Lost in the bitter cold, low on supplies, and surrounded by violently territorial wolves, the suicidal Ottway must find the willpower to lead his fellow survivors to safety. 

As their numbers dwindle and hope fades, the men are forced to ask the difficult questions: Why, out of all the people on that plane, did I survive? Why did [insert name] live through it just so he could get torn apart by wolves? 

Why should I even bother fighting?

Ottway may find the answer to that last one in a poem written by his father: 

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

We’re all marching toward a death of some kind. That’s not an excuse to give up. You don’t need a reason to fight for survival, The Grey argues–the will to live is its own justification.

[Originally written January 28, 2012.]

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