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
I saw the movie, The Grey last night and I was thoroughly entertained by it. The movie was really suspenseful, action-packed and even touching at times. I felt that the movie had hit the right tempo and mix of pure horror (in the form of the stalking wolf pack) and serious drama during the moments of the film when we got to know the seven survivors of the ill-fated flight over Alaska. The movie in my opinion speaks more on life and how we ultimately fight to survive so that we may enjoy the connections we have with loved ones. It also speaks greatly about death and how each man views the end entirely differently. The question of faith was also covered and it was interesting to see each man’s view on death and if there was indeed a higher power.
There are plenty of reviews on this film so I won’t go into great detail. I just want to comment on the ending of the film without providing spoilers. As I watched the film I wondered how it was going to end. Where they all going to die? If not, then who would survive? As I watched the film, that answer became more and more obvious. About five minutes before the movie finally ended, I just knew what was going to be the final edit in the film. It was inevitable.
Liam Neeson was the perfect actor for this role. He definitely ranks high on my top five list of favorite male actors. His roles in Taken and Unknown have recently put him on the list of bad-ass, leading tough guys and in this movie, he’s no exception. He plays John Ottway, a sniper who specializes in killing wolves in order to protect the men working in an oil drilling company. Bradley Cooper, who was slated to star in the film by the way, would not have been a good choice (no offense, Bradley!). He’s too young and would not have conveyed the nuances of a character who is much older, experienced and in obvious pain, as evidenced in the beginning of the movie when John initially tries to take his own life. There are moments when Liam Neeson isn’t speaking and yet he still manages to make us feel what he’s thinking. I really loved his performance.
The other characters in the film were not throwaway characters at all. They all had their distinct personalities and a reason to fight for survival. There was at least one character in the movie whom I initially didn’t like but by the end, you really understood where he was coming from and mourn his decision to give up the fight. Not only was this a clear example of how well that character was portrayed onscreen by the actor but also how well written he was (co-written by director John Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, who penned the short story this movie is based on, Ghost Walker). I was definitely invested in each of the seven survivors so as the movie played on, I was fearing for each of their lives.
Which leads me to the end of the film. After going through this journey and ordeal with the characters, I was already emotionally taxed by then. The topics and themes covered in this film were really heavy handed. This is not an action movie with heroic superhuman feats. This movie was grounded in reality (if you ignore the Lord of the Rings Worg-like Alpha leading the pack). It all led up to the poem that John Ottway’s father had written during the many flashbacks in the film. Also crucial to the story was John’s love interest (played by Anne Openshaw) which we only see during brief flashbacks. Her only words were, “Don’t be afraid.” One final flashback shot of her reveals what she meant by this statement and also gives us pure insight as to why John does the things he does in the movie.
The movie ends in an abrupt cut to black. I just KNEW this was going to happen! I saw the writing on the wall a mile away and applauded director John Carnahan’s decision to end the movie this way. I will say that I heard many people’s disappointment in the way the movie ended. I could understand why people would be upset. When you invest a couple of hours in a movie, you want some sort of closure. You don’t want the ending to be vague and open for interpretation (like last year’s Inception).
This ending for me worked however and there was nothing more to show. You can infer how it ends. That moment has been mounting since the beginning of the film and if you paid attention, the outcome is clear. There’s no need for an extended, action-filled, CG scene. You know what happens to the character and you leave satisfied that both the director and writer didn’t dumb things down for us. They went against the grain and provided us a highly intelligent film that leaves you wondering for days on the plight of these men. I stood up and walked out the theater and to my car, happy to have spent the $11.50 on a Saturday night viewing.
Then I found on the web that there was a post-credit scene. This bothered me to no end! WHY? Why the need for such a scene? I am getting SO tired of these post-credit scenes. I wish filmmakers just stop adding them. What was the last scene? I have no clue!! I read that the final scene was reminiscent to a scene in the very beginning of the movie where John, after shooting a wolf, places his hand on the dying animal, feeling the rhythmic breathing of its quickly ending life.
Alas I guess I’ll find out when the movie hits DVD in a few months or on cable or Netflix. Do I really need to see that final, FINAL scene? I guess not. I know how it ends and I’m fine by it.