The Grey

Marketed as a straight action flick, Liam Neeson's latest is actually a sheep in wolf's clothing

The past few years have seen Liam Neeson transformed into Hollywood’s most unexpected action hero. While The Grey is more thoughtful and meditative than, say Taken, it still gives the actor plenty of tough-guy dialogue to work with, playing one of seven survivors of a plane crash trying to avoid being eaten by a pack of wolves in the Alaskan wilderness. Even if it isn’t quite the wolf-punching action flick the trailer promised, this is still a superior thriller with yet another star turn from its leading man.

Picture: As with his debut movie Narc, director Joe Carnahan has opted for a very stylised aesthetic approach to this latest film.

The most obvious visual quirk is the amount of grain present in the Blu-ray AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode. It gets so heavy at times that it’s hard to tell the difference between snow being blown around in the middle of a storm and grain buzzing around like angry mosquitos. Coupled with the stark exteriors, this has the downside of robbing some shots of clarity and detail – which is a real shame, as there are some excellent close-ups in that show what the encode is truly capable of when not held back by stylistic tricks.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Any small concerns I might harbour about the picture quality have no impact whatsoever on the Blu-ray soundtrack. The Grey features an incredibly immersive and powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that easily grounds you in the heart of an inhospitable wilderness alongside the film’s characters.

From the moment that the plane encounters turbulence in Chapter 2 you know that you’re in for a bit of a wild ride. Then you’re transported into the heart of an Alaskan storm, with gale force winds whipping up snow all around your living room. Even when the weather settles down, the mix doesn’t. The pursuing wolves are always making their presence felt – audibly if not visually. A prime example being the race to the forest in Chapter 6, followed by the sound of the wolves barking and howling as they circle around you, unseen in the darkness, while the survivors rush to light a fire. Magnificent stuff.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Ordinarily, a BD platter with so few extras would leave me howling mad. Sure enough, the lack of anything beyond a commentary and some deleted scenes is disappointing. However, the chat-track by Carnahan and editors Roger Barton and Jason Hellman is an absolute barnstormer and pulls no punches (such as Carnahan’s description of one of the executive producers: ‘That ****ing bozo Bill Johnson. Sorry bro’, you don’t get to get off the hook. You’re lucky your name’s still on the film’).

The six deleted scenes (one of which is actually an extended sequence) are mainly forgettable, but worth checking out solely for a laughable encounter with a polar bear that was wisely dropped from the film. All of the footage is presented in 1080p.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: The astonishing audio mix alone makes this haunting thriller worth hunting down in hi-def

Entertainment in Video, Region B BD, £25 Approx, On sale now