Liam saves this dog
Director: Joe Carnahan ( Smokin Aces) Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Joe Anderson, Frank Grillo Hungry? Like the wolves? Then Liam is your man . . . VERY few dramatic actors are capable of making the ludicrous seem laudable.
When a film accidentally slips from serious to silly, a Denzel Washington can save the day where a Nicolas Cage and countless others cannot.
Next to Washington, one of the market leaders in making a movie stupid- proof is Liam Neeson. Take a look at his recent hits Taken and
Unknown if you have your doubts. Now it is the turn of The Grey to withdraw all it can from Neeson’s deep reserves of goodwill with the film- going public.
You can almost sense how grateful the filmmakers feel towards their leading man – particularly once the one- idea concept they are working with is exhausted well before the final credits roll. That one idea? After a plane crash in the badlands of Alaska, a small band of survivors are picked off with ruthless precision by a pack of killer super- wolves.
These angry animals are, understandably, acting upon insanely territorial instincts whenever they have the chance to lock jaws on the new blokes on their block ( of ice).
However, as The Grey wears on, the wolves are also too suspiciously clever in a franchise serial- killer kind of way. These four- legged biting machines would not be out of place in a Halloween or Friday the
13th movie, such is their talent from pouncing upon their prey with much implausible creativity.
( Anticipating when the wolves might attack is much more fun than enduring how they always do attack. Seeing these CGIanimated critters pull apart humans like cheap jam donuts gets old quite quickly. No matter how much the cameraman shakes his lens and the editor clicks his mouse.)
If The Grey does keep one blooddrenched paw in the compelling zone – and not everyone will believe that to be so – then it is all because of Neeson and the soulful, solitary grace he finds in his role.
He plays Ottway, a man with a bleak past ( he keeps imagining himself in the arms of a tragically lost love) and no future ( suicidal thoughts occur daily).
Ottway wound up working as a marksman protecting far- flung oil rigs purely because he and the world had parted ways. Now, with his fellow employees – a bunch of nogood roughnecks to a man – staring death right in the face, Ottway just might have found a reason to stay alive.
His odyssey is only a secondary concern of writer- director Joe Carnahan ( motoring in a decidedly different gear from his underrated Smokin Aces), but you can tell it’s a meaningful priority to Neeson.
And that is why we continue to count on him when a movie looks spent.
Now showing Village Cinemas