Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Grey [2011]

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (L) Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars) Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing -
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1601913/
CNS/USCCB review -
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/movies/12mv011.htm
Roger Ebert's review -
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120125/REVIEWS/120129984

The Grey (directed and cowritten by Joe Carnahan along with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers based on the short story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers named "Ghost Walker") is about seven Alaska oil workers who out of a much larger group survive a plane crash in the Alaska wilderness only to be stalked, killed and eaten by wolves as they seek to find their way back to safety/civilization. 

It is a thoroughly harrowing tale that in its starkness asks of both the characters, led by Liam Neeson who plays a rifleman who had been working for the oil company as a guard hired to precisely keep wolves and other predators away from the other oil workers, as well as well as the audience some fundamental questions about life and death -- Who/what do you live for?  What/who are you willing to die for?  What's the meaning of an existence that at times can be so randomly cut short and over which one often has so little control?  And yes, where does God fit into the picture?

The picture becomes more poignant when one recalls that in real life, Liam Neeson (wiki) had lost his wife, Natasha Richardson, in 2009 to a freak skiing accident.  As such the questions asked and the manner in which they are asked are honest if certainly challenging to a Christian/Catholic believer. 

Indeed, winter, cold, snow, the grey skies of the frozen north, etc have all figured prominently in a fair number of American films in recent years -- The American [2010], Riding Hood [2011], Hanna [2011], The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [2011] and now The Grey [2012] -- often coupled then with explorations of themes of betrayal, loneliness, superficiality and/or hypocrisy.  In this time after 10 years of war and seemingly long-term economic uncertainty, is Hollywood (re)discovering its "inner Swede"?  and calling believers of our time to face fundamental questions of existence, justice/injustice with the honesty of the famed (and Nazi-era martyr) Rev. Dietrich Bonheoffer who already in the 1930s declared that he wasn't interested any more in what he dismissed as "cheap grace?"  Perhaps.


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