WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AND NAUGHTY LANGUAGE AHEAD!!!
“The Grey” opened last night and, because I love watching Liam Neeson beat the hell out of people, I made my way to the theatre for opening night. It was the usual affair: me, a nice assortment of my friends, and a healthy amount of drinks beforehand. We’d spent the day emailing one another with excitement, calling the movie “Wolf Puncher” and remarking on our “particular set of skills”. Why? Because we knew wolves were going to get punched in their stupid faces by Liam Neeson. I don’t know who it was that decided to make Liam Neeson a badass but whoever it was did a great job. The theatre darkened and we settled in, bellies brimmed with Jack Daniel’s which was soon to be topped off by popcorn and Skittles. The candy came with the combo, thank you.
The movie opens on Liam Neeson and his oil rigger buddies. Liam’s job is to shoot wolves with a sniper rifle. Great start, right? He guns one down in the first few minutes and all I could think was “Yes, this is exactly what I wanted. Take that you stupid wolf!” As it turns out, Liam isn’t too happy with his life (there are numerous flashback to his dead wife) and nearly kills himself. He’s there in the woods alone (after leaving a bar where everyone else is having fun) and, rifle in his mouth, is about to pull the trigger. What stops him? A stupid wolf which he is forced to kill because it passed by.
The oil riggers board a plane and head for Alaska where they are going to make bank being badass oil riggers. Unfortunately, the plane isn’t exactly mechanically sound and plummets to the ground. Decent crash scene, too.
Luckily for the casting agent, Liam and the oil riggers are the only survivors. There’s Liam, the quiet guy, the black dude, the chap with glasses, the loudmouth and a couple of other guys. Liam, being the Alpha Male, decides that they cannot stay there. “If they sent 50 planes to search for us they’d find us, surely, but they aren’t going to send 50 planes. We have to head south.” He then gives an inspirational speech in which he refers to a poem his father had written which was framed and hung upon the wall of his childhood home. It was four lines, the first two of which I don’t recall, but the last two repeat. The line is “Live and die on this day…” Sound familiar? It should – it’s on the poster. Naturally there’s a bit of resistance from the loudmouth guy but, in the end, they follow Liam. Duh.
Before they leave, however, they decide to take some supplies. Unfortunately, a 400 mile per hour impact is enough to smash Liam’s sniper rifle so they are unarmed. This is where it begins to come a bit unhinged. They are surrounded by luggage and clothed dead people and such. Had it been me, I would have stocked up on every piece of warm clothing that fit me. The smaller items would have become scarfs and bedding and such. In fact, I could have packed a suitcase because there were a bunch of them scattered across the frozen tundra. They decide to leave all of that behind, opting only to take the miniature liquor bottles (which, to be fair, I would have also taken) and the wallets of the dead so they have a record of who perished. Before they leave, Liam hears a sigh and sees a woman moving in the brush. Upon further inspection it’s not the woman sighing – it’s A WOLF EATING HER DEAD BODY! Naturally, I expected Liam to punch it but he refrained. He tells the survivors that wolves will venture as far as 30 miles from their den to find food, the den is probably close, and if they can get to the trees that are basically a silhouette in the distance at this point, they should be fine. They argue but eventually agree, because Liam points out that his entire job over the years has been to snipe wolves and keep them all safe. You’d think they might have noticed but, hey, he’s the wolf puncher. Who’s going to argue with him?
Night falls after the first day’s travel and they make a fire (courtesy of a thermos of jet fuel Liam took from the wreckage). That’s when the fun begins. They hear a wolf cry out in the night. Liam fashions a torch and they all step to the edge of camp where they are met with a set of glowing eyes…and another…and another…and another…until there are about a dozen wolves surrounding the six of them. Fortunately, wolves are afraid of fire and leave them be…for now.
Time passes and, like most survival movies, everyone gets picked off one by one. One guy gets eaten, the black guy dies in a blizzard because the altitude gets to him, another hurts his ankle and decides to give up and stay behind, etc. Along the way there are various wolf things happening. Most are chases, yet another guy get eaten after plummeting 100 feet through a pine tree (the guy with glasses – poor Dermot Mulroney) but it’s all moving towards the final showdown. It’s gearing up for what we paid $13 to see: Liam Neeson punching wolves in the face.
Side note – it’s obvious these Alaskan oil riggers have never watched Bear Grylls in their life. When night falls in the brutal Alaskan wasteland they don’t dig out a shelter. They just make a pile of pine needles and sleep on top of them. Truth be told, that’s probably what killed the black guy. When it’s down to Liam and the quiet guy (who saw Liam try to kill himself) they fall into an icy river. The quiet guy’s foot gets stuck and he drowns. When Liam (after collecting quiet guy’s wallet, of course) gets out he doesn’t remove the wet clothes to fight off hypothermia. He decides to kneel in a clearing and stack the wallets neatly. I figured he was going to start a fire to dry off but…out of nowhere (nowhere being the forest)….
Here it is. It’s finally time for the showdown. Nine wolves come out of the clearing and surround Liam. In front of him is the Alpha Male who, by the way, is the size of a Volkswagen. They stare each other down. Liam realizes that in his attempt to get away from the wolf den he has wandered directly into the middle of the wolf den. It’s on. IT’S SO ON!
Liam digs into his cargo and pulls out three of the remaining wee liquor bottles. He puts them between his fingers and then uses electrical tape to bind them to his hand. He smashes them on a rock so he’s now got three mini-knives. As if that’s not cool enough, he takes his actual knife and electrical tapes it to his other hand. Don’t ask me where he got the tape – it was the first time I’d seen it, too.
The Alpha Male approaches, growling. Liam gets into a sort of sumo stance and stares back into the wolf’s dead eyes. He says to himself, “Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day…”
AND THEN IT CUTS TO BLACK.
Seriously!?!? That’s where the movie ends!?!? I sat through two hours of what was actually a pretty good movie waiting for Liam to punch a wolf and he never does! The whole damn thing builds towards Liam and the Alpha Male having a throwdown and it never happens. In fact, if you’ve seen the preview, half of it takes place in the last ninety seconds of the movie. Liam doesn’t fight shit. He just mutters his father’s stupid poem and then it cuts to black.
I kid you not, the entire audience was livid. Anyone who tells you they went to this movie for a reason other than to watch Liam Neeson punch wolves is lying to your face. I very loudly hurled obscenities at the screen, the writer, the director, and everything else I could think of as I left the building. As people came in and had their tickets torn I said, “I hope that’s not for ‘The Grey’ because he NEVER PUNCHES A WOLF!”
Save your money. Don’t go see this movie. Wait for the DVD which will surely have the alternate ending where he actually punches the wolf. That’ll be on the two-disc Criterion Super Mega A-OK Awesome Collector’s Edition which will cost twice as much.
Had it not been for the nice people in the audience I would have wagged my dick at this film. Total horseshit. Do yourself a favor and watch “Taken” instead. Better yet, watch “Darkman”. That movie is awesome and Liam Neeson actually punches something.