Liam saves this dog

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

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

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