Spoiler Alert: On The Grey and The Punching of the Wolves

A new, semi-regular series in which we totally spoil one of the weekend's films. If you saw The Grey, please chime in below.

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Kimberley French / Open Road Films

Liam Neeson in The Grey

It was pretty clear from the first few minutes of The Grey that it was going to be a more contemplative film than the “Liam Neeson punches the crap out of wolves” movie that the above picture, and the trailers, would have us believe. The film starts out with Ottway — the wolf killer played by Neeson — writing a note to his dead (or at least ill) wife and reciting a poem written by his dead father. He thinks about killing himself and goes so far as to suck on his rifle’s muzzle before thinking twice. It’s all very deliberately paced, and death-haunted, much like the rest of the film is, save for a loud, bravura plane crash sequence here and some viscera-heavy wolf maulings there.

At several points during The Grey, the plane crash survivors sit around and talk about life, death, family — all the things that one might find themselves focusing on were they stuck in the Alaskan wilderness hunted by giant wolves. It’s all emotional in a somewhat macho way and fairly satisfying. There’s a rhythm to the movie: lots of talking followed by an action-y scene where someone dies.

Now while I enjoyed all this, I have to admit that the entire time I was waiting, waiting, waiting for Liam Neeson to strap on some broken airplane liquor bottles and punch some wolves in the face. (Am I alone on this? Was anyone else waiting for a Liam Neeson/canis lupus battle royale? Be honest.) So, after almost two hours of fleeing from the glowy-eyed beasts, after every other character gets eaten or falls to their death or drowns or decides to commit a gentle suicide, Neeson’s character finds himself right smack in the middle of the wolf’s den. Bad luck, sure, but he’s not going down without a fight. (Alright, let’s do this.) He tapes a knife to one hand, (yes) tapes those jagged airplane miniatures to his other (yes!), growls, runs at the alpha (YES!!) and…CUT TO BLACK. (WHAT??)

After the shock wore off (Wait, there’s really not going to be any wolf punching?), I exited the theater and tried to accept what the film was trying to do as opposed to what I wanted it to do. Then I read that there’s some post-credits sequence in which we see the aftermath of the Neeson/wolf face-off. That’s when I got really pissed. So pissed I could have punched a wolf. I don’t know anyone other than film critics (and few at that) who sit through movie credits sequences. Usually, most people are rushing out of the theater in an attempt to beat the bathroom line or the traffic out of the parking lot. To market the movie with insinuations of something that doesn’t happen (but then actually does, sort of, but only after all the credits have run) seems the essence of trying to have it both ways. If you’re gonna cut to black at an unexpected moment, own it.

So who else saw The Grey? What did you think about the movie and about the ending in particular? Please let us know in the comments below.

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