Have superpowers, will travel
Early on in Joe Carnahan's gritty survival tale The Grey, there's a moment that's so serenely peaceful, I almost didn't want it to end, especially knowing what was to come. The scene in question takes place aboard a chartered plane that's flying a crew of oil company grunts to a drilling station in the far reaches of Alaska. Before the aircraft lifted off into the friendly skies, the guys were laughing, talking and busting each other's chops, as if they were in a locker room instead of a mid-size jet. Now that the plane's at cruising altitude though, they're all nabbing some much-needed shuteye. The cabin lights are dimmed, tray tables are up and in a locked position and the passengers are quietly slumbering, their breath misting in the chilled air. It's a beautifully evocative moment -- perhaps the best single scene Carnahan has ever staged -- one that immediately establishes an aura of calm and safety.
If you only know Joe Carnahan as the director of high-octane action movies like Smokin' Aces and The A-Team, his latest film The Grey, which opens in theaters on Friday, may come as a surprise. This spare, stripped-down survival tale follows a small band of men whose plane crashes deep in the Alaskan wilderness and are forced to battle the elements -- from the harsh weather to hungry wolves -- in order to make it back to civilization. Liam Neeson plays the crew's self-appointed leader, Ottway, who is still carrying the emotional scars caused by the recent passing of his beloved wife. More in the spirit of Grizzly Man than an uplifting man vs. nature story like Alive, The Grey was Carnahan's most challenging shoot, but it resulted in one of his most fully-realized movies. The director spoke with TWoP during a recent trip to New York.
Over the course of his career, Liam Neeson has proven his mettle against an international prostitution ring, Sith lords, a haunted house and Batman. Now in the new Joe Carnahan-directed survival tale, The Grey, the Irish actor takes on one of his fiercest opponents: a pack of wild wolves.