Man versus the wild stories can be compelling when told well. When filmed in the wild, as this was, the level of authenticity adds to the visceral nature of the events and challenges. Whiteout took the same approach, though to a lesser effect as it was also a lesser movie. This particular movie caught me by surprise, through its gripping visuals, the intense challenges, and the emotional foundation. The narrative is laid out in an interesting and unexpected way that reveals some of the real turmoil in the main character.
Neeson’s performance is the true heart of this film and he did what he seems to truly do best: quiet, intense loner on the edge of exploding at all times both to his detriment and, often, others. Without him, this film would not have worked the way it did. If I had any real gripe with his performance, it was that his accent kept slipping in and out. It wasn’t so distracting that it ruined the film, but it did bother my ear.
Watching the opening sequences of this film, I couldn’t help but recall something a young woman who was living in Alaska told me about meeting men, as the ratio is rather in the women’s favor in that cold, unforgiving clime. As she put it, the chances could be summed up as: The odds are good, but the goods are odd. And the collection of characters that populate the story definitely prove out that statement and each is played and cast wonderfully.
On the technical front, it has to be noted that the cinematography is stunning and, at times, chilling. Expect to see this show up on some awards lists later in the year for that category. Sadly, the transfer to blu-ray is sub-par. Low light scenes, particularly, are full of grainy noise. I would hope they will re-issue the film again down the road to do the effort justice.
As a whole, Carnahan’s direction was very taught and well done. Coming from the same man that brought us Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team, I was surprised that the true action of this film was the depth of emotion, admittedly punctuated with bursts of horror. Carnahan and Jeffers as the writers take their time with the story, slowly revealing all the information and making statements both visually and in the tale. Make sure you watch all the way through the credits; there is a final tag that caused a great deal of conversation after the watching of it.
The Grey wasn’t a movie I was chomping at the bit to see, but I had heard enough that I queued it up. As it turns out, it grabbed me by my throat from the beginning and played out well. Even if you aren’t a Call of the Wild kinda viewer, and I’m usually not either, this film stands on its own outside its purported genre.