Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Liam Neeson Vs. Conflict

Spoiler Alert.

The Grey sucked.

I know in the days somewhere between my freshman year and now, I might have found this movie somewhat enjoyable, maybe even fantastic.

Those days, apparently, are past.

Liam Neeson plays Ottway, a wolf assassin for an oil pipeline company. Yes, that is his actual job, which sounds even cooler just typing it. He's a fucking wolf assassin. How do you make that job boring? Make him suicidal and weepy over his wife, make it his last day on the job, and then crash his plane on the ride home.

Hilarity ensues when a ragtag group of plane crash survivors must further survive some pretty lousy CGI wolves. Yeah, I know they can't get real wolves, but these looked so off. Maybe it's because I've never actually seen a wolf, but this is my blog, dammit, so the CGI was bad.

Predictable stereotypes prevail in the characters. Diaz is the tough as nails latino ex convict with authority issues, Flannery is the long haired slacker who Hudson-panics for his entire misbegotten appearance, Burke is the huge black guy who is really a big scaredy teddy bear, Talget is the loyal yet flawed pal of the protagonist, etc. etc. etc.

Liam Neeson comes off as every other character he has portrayed in recent memory if they were all working the end of a 22 hour shift and desperately looking to go home and drink a bottle of gin (including Zeus). He has all the answers, knows just what to do, invents weapons out of next to nothing and manages to keep himself alive in a situation that a lesser man would find pants-wettingly impossible.

I picture the conversation with his agent going something like this:

Liam Neeson's Agent: "Wow, Liam, you've been pretty busy. Twenty two movies in the past decade. Maybe a rest is in order?"

Liam Neeson (in what can only be described as a soothing shout): "Why am I not currently fighting someone?!"

LN'sA: "Liam, you've fought Muslims, Sith Lords, Batman, Telmarines, a cowboy, Antonio Banderas, the Albanian Mafia, Justin Long, the Titans, the CIA, assassins... you've fought everyone there is to fight!"

LN: "Fuck it, then I'll fight a pack of wolves!"

The trailer bills this as a Man vs. Nature showdown between the wounded survivors of a plane crash and a pack of bloodthirsty killers. What it is is two hours of them running away from wolves that devour them one at a time. There are cheap scare thrills of wolves jumping out of nowhere to attack and devour the dwindling survivors, but there is no real sense of drama when they aren't directly getting bitten by giant wolves.

It has it's moments where it pretends to be a spiritual message, but these moments are few and far between and feel disconnected.

The trailer hooked me instantly with it's imagery of Liam Neeson taping broken liquor bottles to his knuckles and going all child Leonidas on the mother fuckers. That epic battle that we were led to believe was going to be the epic climax of the movie? Happens off-screen, while the credits are running. SERIOUSLY. Last twenty seconds of the film, Liam decides "fuck it, I'll do it myself," (actual dialogue) straps it on, and leaps at the Alpha male of the pack. Just as the screen cuts to black.

I violated my own rule of staying through the credits, figuring if they weren't going to have the balls to show the fight, why would they show anything else? I even joked to my brother that they probably showed the fight during the closing credits. Turns out I was almost right; according to the internet, there is a post credit stinger that shows Liam's head resting against the stomach of the mortally wounded Alpha male wolf. What the Hell? Is he dead? Dying? Cuddling? Ingesting the innards of his kill to gain it's strength? Is he now the leader of the pack? Is he now rabid?

To quote Mary Steenburgen, "what the fucking fuck?" (I love that I can do that and have it be 100% accurate.)

Skip it.