The Grey

Rated 4.0

There’s a pulp sensibility running through Joe Carnahan’s The Grey that evokes the man vs. nature adventure stories from the ’30s that were packaged between the lurid covers of men’s magazines, refined with a touch of Jack London’s eye for the desolate wilderness that served as a backdrop for his early Alaska tales. And that is good. However, if one goes into The Grey expecting to see Liam Neeson unleash all sorts of badassery on the timber wolves at hand, one might be disappointed. The film is heavy on the existentialism, light on the badassery, as Neeson and his erstwhile posse of survivors summon everything they can just to stay ahead of the snapping white fangs. Carnahan displays an evocative feel for old-fashioned story-telling, and a nuanced sense of dark irony. And while he follows the template of body-count horror, he also takes the time to define the characters beyond the expected caricatures and tweak the narrative tropes we’ve come to expect from a Hollywood thriller with a subtle hand. Cinemark 14 and Feather River Cinemas. Rated R