Grey, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts. Action/thriller. Written by Joe Carnahan and Ian MacKensie Jeffers. Directed by Joe Carnahan.

FILM SYNOPSIS:< A shocking, heart-pounding saga at the intersection of Moby Dick and Jaws, The Grey concerns a planeload of ordinary men stranded in the wilderness and pitted against impossible conditions and even more nightmarish predators. Set in the frozen mountains of Alaska, a pack of angry, snarling wolves doggedly pursue their human prey while the men work out their relationships and issues with each other.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This may be the most intense, frightening, nerve-wracking survival thriller I ever saw. That will no doubt lure in the action/adventure crowd who seem to be more accepting of excessive obscenity while demanding more graphic visuals with each movie offering. There just seems to be no limit to what todayís moviegoer will endure in the name of entertainment. The Bible declares in Philippians 4:8 that we should be careful as to what we put in our minds, yet todayís audiences donít seem restricted by this warning. As a matter of fact, they donít seem restricted by anything.

There is also another insidious battle occurring. Of late, movie studios have been attempting to find material that will attract members of the religious community. Great, except some of these films show little difference from those with distinctly non-religious themes. In her review of the recent Joyful Noise, my colleague Mary Draughon had mixed feelings about the filmís content: ďIt is refreshing to see a Hollywood production acknowledging the church as a very important part of a communityÖStill, the PG-13 rating should be considered before buying a ticket. The dialogue is spiced with many s-words and other crude expressions among leading church members, although the Lordís name isnít taken in vain. Mean-spirited competition, a vicious public Ďcat fightí in a restaurant, and an unmarried couple caught in an embarrassing and tragic sexual encounter are treated as sources of hilarity.Ē

I myself was somewhat put off by the amount of bickering and the swearing coming from choir members in that film, as well as the casualness with which one unwed couple jumped into the sack. And now Open Road Films wants Christians to find an underlining spirituality in the deservedly R-rated The Grey. In it, a couple of the stranded men declare there is no afterlife, and one man yells out to God to prove Himself, the invective-filled rant becoming downright blasphemous. Still, we are expected to endure the filmís brutal content in order to find life and death significance. Well, I looked and listened past the objectionable material in order to find the existential questions the studio press notes claim are in the film, but by golly, I couldnít find them.

In years past I have found certain R-rated films such as Schindlerís List, Dead Man Walking and Tsotsi replete with spiritual reality. And I understood that a film such as Tsotsi could connect with an audience that relates to the harsh realities portrayed and sees past the brutality, finding a deep meaning. But I couldnít find such significance in The Grey. And, despite its artistic merit, itís still hard for me to be entertained by a film that resorts to the inclusion of nearly 200 curse words (mostly the f- and s-words Ė make that mostly the f-word). Whatever redemptive moral is buried within this excess was lost to me. Whatís more, I doubt there will be a large following that will see this film, then decide to attend church the following Sunday. I could be wrong, but Iím probably not. So, I question the intent of this marketing strategy.

One final note on this film. I understand that a trapper killed four wolves to use as props and that members of the cast ate the wolf meat, which angered animal activists. Itís interesting that thereís no such outcry when it comes to a content that pummels the mind and spirit of the movie viewer.

DVD Alternative: Island in the Sky. I hesitated to offer up this suggestion as the film is from 1953 and we all know how unhip it is to view older films. But I maintain that along with entertaining us, older movies also reveal where our mindset was in a different decade, comparing our nature then to now. So, I recommend Island in the Sky despite the eye rolling from Tinseltown hawkers.

In this black & white film, John Wayne and his flight crew become stranded in the wilderness when their aircraft goes down.† Itís a tense survival drama,†one that gives a solid performance by the Duke under the astute direction by veteran flyer/filmmaker William Wellman.† The DVD contains several interesting features, including an insightful commentary track by Leonard Maltin and the directorís son, William Wellman, Jr.†

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Open Road Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A couple of crude sexual conversations

Obscene Language: After 200 obscene words, I quit counting.

Profanity: At least six misuses of Christís name and three profane uses of Godís; during one scene, a man curses God, his rant becoming blasphemous.

Violence: The crash is unnerving, and the wolf attacks, of which there are many, are grizzly. Lots of blood.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 117 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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