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 "Once more into the fray.

Into the last good fight I’ll ever know.

Live and die on this day.

Live and die on this day."

The Grey is a survival thriller starring Liam Neeson and directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin Aces, The a Team, Narc). The film centers around a group of Alaskan oil workers who get caught in a plane crash on the way to Anchorage, and have to both survive the wilderness and fend off attacks by dangerous man-eating wolves.

The film was released in January 2012, and while some animal rights groups boycotted the film for its "questionable" portrayal of wolves, it was well received critically with critics praising its surprising substance, suspense, and Neeson's particularly powerful performance.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Survivor: Pretty much everyone is way out of their element, deep in the Alaskan wilderness, and their only goal is to survive the sub-zero temperatures and wolf attacks.
  • Alaska: In all its frigid glory.
  • Arc Words: "Live and die on this day...", "Don't be afraid."
  • Big Badass Wolf: The Alpha is huge, black, and has an impressive, mane-like ruff around his neck.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The film ends with Ottway surrounded by wolves and getting ready for the big showdown with the alpha wolf, a knife in one hand and broken liquor bottles taped to the other. The Stinger reveals that neither he nor the alpha survived the fight.
  • California Doubling: The film was shot in British Columbia, which often doubles for Alaska.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Dead All Along: Ottway's wife.
  • Despair Event Horizon: This is part of the reason Diaz decides to stay behind, along with his bad leg. He doesn't feel there's any reason anymore. Finally after Hendrick is killed, Ottway pretty much crosses it and accepts that he's going to die.
  • Downer Ending : All of the survivors, including Ottway, eventually end up dying either to the elements or to the wolves. Ottway at least takes the Alpha wolf with him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ottway contemplates this, and seems about to go through with it in the opening scene.
  • Dwindling Party
  • Early-Bird Cameo: All of the main survivors appear in the bar at the beginning of the film, including Diaz who (very much in-character) starts a minor brawl.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Averted in a deleted scene.
  • Everything's Worse with Wolves: The plot of the film. Highly aggressive and fiercely territorial, these wolves have never encountered humans before.
  • Give Me a Sign: After the death of Hendrick, the only other survivor, Ottway screams at the heavens demanding help from God. It never comes.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Justified - wolves have reflective eyes to improve night vision.
  • Gory Discretion Shot - Twice.
    • The first instance is when Talget is dragged off by the wolves and a tree blocks us from seeing him get ripped apart
    • The second instance is when Diaz is left behind. We hear sticks breaking, and the growling getting closer before it cuts away
  • Great White Hunter: Ottway is described as such by Diaz.
  • Improvised Weapon: A few. Early in the film, the others fend a wolf off Ottway with various detritus from the crash. Later, Ottway fashions one-use spears from a stick, some tape, and a single shotgun shell. Finally, as shown in the trailer, Ottway uses a few empty bottles of airline-sized liquor taped between his fingers as a knuckleduster.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Diaz tells Ottway and Hendrick that he can't continue any further after suffering a knee injury. He makes peace with them and himself before they move on.
  • Jerkass: Diaz. He gets better.
  • Jump Scare: A couple, mostly involving - you guessed it - the wolves.
  • Kill'Em All: Not one person who got on that plane survives, though you have to wait until after the credits to learn that about Ottway.
  • Last Stand: If Ottway wasn't going to survive, he was at least going to go down fighting.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Diaz considers himself a Badass who isn't afraid of anything, and mocks Ottway for admitting that he's scared. He's quickly shown how foolish his bravado is.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "It's their fuckin' den!"
  • Name's the Same: Both Ottway and Diaz are called John. They share a laugh after realizing this.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The marketing traded very heavily on Liam Neeson's fame from Taken. The movie itself is decidedly not "Bryan Mills punches wolves to death for two hours."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While we do have plenty of scenes with the wolves onscreen, there are other times where we only hear them.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome/Never Trust a Trailer: The promised fight between Ottway and the alpha wolf is never shown on screen. We get a brief shot after the credits of the aftermath, but it's too close up to really tell the outcome.
  • Peaceful in Death: Ottway does his best to make the first man's death this way - instead of telling him he's going to be fine, he says straight out, "You're going to die. That's what's happening." Then he encourages him to think about whom he loves, and let her take him.
  • Primal Fear: The entire film runs on this and never lets up.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: "Fuck faith! Earn it!"
  • Red Herring: The GPS tracking watch.
    • The sawed off tree the survivors find before reaching the cliff. If there was civilization anywhere close to that point, the survivors never find it.
  • The Reveal: What exactly Ottway meant when he said that his wife "left him."
  • Scary Black Man: Strongly averted. Burke is the only black character, and is physically the largest, but also one of the kindest and most magnanimous; his first line is him criticizing Diaz for, well, being Diaz.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Inverted, perhaps even given a Russian Reversal. The shaggy wolves get the humans
  • Shout-Out: Talget's cap, a black cap with the yellow letters "WY" are the same colors of the Weyland-Yutani logo from Alien. Ridley Scott, director of Alien, produced this film.
  • The Stinger: Ottway and the alpha wolf lying in a heap after their fight, barely alive.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Or rather, predators, hunting in a pack.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sure Diaz, cut off a wolf's head and throw it out into the wilderness and taunt the wolves about it. It's not like they have reason to be pissed off enough already. Oh wait.
    • Not to mention he was challenging Ottway to a fight just a few moments ago while it was clearly established that the group was completely surrounded by the ever-present wolves
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The shot of Ottway creating the makeshift bottle knuckles and beginning to fight the Alpha...is the last shot of the film.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The movie is basically 180 minutes of people failing and dying, with no particular point as to why. Perfect for getting yourself out of depressive episodes!
  • World Half Empty: This is NOT a happy movie. At all. The ending pretty much shows that they were all dead the instant the plane went down.
  • X Meets Y: Final Destination meets...a pack of angry wolves.
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