A COMBINATION of MacGyver, Man Vs Wild and David Attenborough Liam Neeson's role in The Grey packs an emotional punch.
More than just a macho, bicep flexing action romp, it is more an exploration of grief, resilience and the strength of the human spirit.
The tone is set with the opening few scenes.
John Ottway (Neeson) leaves an Alaskan bar with a shotgun.
Kneeling in the snow he places it to his mouth and closes his eyes, but a distant howl of a wolf makes him change his mind.
Then with one of the most masterly crafted, exhilaratingly terrifying plane crash scenes in movie history, Ottway and crew find themselves stranded in the wilderness being relentlessly stalked by a pack of wolves.
It's a meaty role for Neeson and like a wolf he sinks his teeth in and never let's go.
He does broody, angst ridden to perfection.
Whether he's growling macho fighting words or matter-of-factly preparing a man for his death, he is without a doubt the kind of guy you would want by your side if your plane was to crash in the wilderness and you were fending off a blood thirsty pack of wolves.
Neeson makes the film.
He is quite clearly the alpha male of the pack.
The other characters are hazy sketches, perhaps more metaphors than fully fleshed entities on their own.
In the fact the whole film could almost be seen as metaphor.
A troubled, grief-stricken man stumbling through the wasteland of depression, trying to survive the horrors long enough to make it out the other side.
It is an intense film of survival filled with both mental horrors and physical torments with both equally terrifying consequences.
The wolves themselves, a combination of puppetry, CGI and real animals are as wily and calculating as any mythical beasty but they are not the only horrors the men must survive.
At times it's a little corny, but thanks to a powerhouse performance by Neeson, The Grey packs a significant emotional punch.
Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Director: Joe Carnahan
Verdict: 3 out of 4 stars
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