Ridley and Tony Scott Put Their Stamp on 'The Grey'

Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:53pm EST

Complaint. Don’t leave the theater once the credits come on. Ever.

There is a tag ending on "The Grey." If the entire ladies room had not been buzzing about what had happened after the credits, I would not know the conclusion. Not that it is black and white. Grey, it is.

I refuse to say more so as not to spoil this thriller of a film directed by Joe Carnahan from a script by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers based on his short story "Ghost Walker."

I was so frightened I was unable to watch the screen at times. The soundtrack is a character unto itself and at times indicates what will, or could happen. And this works to build the suspense.

Liam Neeson as Ottway is superb as is the entire cast of Frank Grillo (Diaz), Dermot Mulroney, (Talget), Dallas Roberts (Hendrick), Joe Anderson (Flannery), Nonzo Anozi, (Burke), James Badge Dale (Lewenden) and Ben Bray (Hernandez). Their individual characters develop slowly and with compassion as each fights for his life.

A plane crashes in Alaska and the plot is about how the passengers, an oil drilling team, struggle to survive. They crash in the territory of a ferocious pack of wolves that see these men as intruders.

Reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s "Ten Little Indians" it is, but it still works as the production values, acting and writing are top notch. And you will never know the conclusion -- unless of course they announce the filming of a "Grey II."

The suspense can be traced not only to the script and the director but to the brothers Scott, who both helped to produce it. Ridley Scott, known for his triumph with "Alien," has injected the same terror in this movie.

In the late 70s I hung out with Ridley and Tony when they were relatively new to Hollywood from England, and were staying at the Chateau Marmont. They were successful commercial directors, but had to prove their talents to the studios.

Because they had filmed commercials, they had an eye for visual effects, knew how to light a set beautifully and how to make greatest impact in a short period of time. Economy is the lesson directors learn from shooting commercials.

When I met Ridley, he was preparing "Blade Runner."  Tony was reading scripts and organizing his entre into Hollywood, orchestrated by his older brother Ridley, who by then had a fair amount of success. Ridley stood by and was protective of Tony, who did not direct "Top Gun" until 85.

And now they are royalty in Hollywood not only in directing circles but producing. They work together frequently and both were producers of "The Grey." This could account for its electrifying, spine-chilling effects, much like "Alien," which was Ridley’s tour de force, and much like Tony’s fast-paced "Unstoppable."

But it is Liam Neeson who triumphs over all of them as he talks one of the passengers over the edge.

“Am I dying?” the passenger asks.

“Yes, you are,” Neeson tells him not pulling any punches.

But then says,” Just close your eyes and think warm thoughts,”

And while this dialogue may not be earth-shattering, Neeson’s delivery is so earnest,

so intense that you, too, are comforted as you face death. Neeson is not melodramatic, but sincere as only Liam Neeson can be.

He makes this film a must see.

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