The Grey is survival of the fittest blown up and served cold. It reminded me of another film I saw only a month ago titled Essential Killing starring the elusive, Vincent Gallo. I believe that film was shot more beautifully and captured the essence of survival more so than The Grey but regardless I still believe this film to be decent as well.
It has some surprises a normal Hollywood film would not usually deem acceptable. It is very bleak right up to the end. Consider the opening shots and the sparsity of human connection. When a man is about to die in the plane crash, Neeson tells the man he is going to die - even in the most realistic war movies, characters aren't so honest! The penultimate scene and maybe the most important, is when Neeson asks for God's help to no avail. Most films would have someone or something show up with a golden hue from the sun around it to help the characters - but not this movie.
The wolves are the gimmick that propels the story and the characters to act but I believe The Grey does pull this off all the while feeling fairly realistic. The Grey and other films like it are successful for the same reason - it's innate to fight for survival. I don't think anyone knows why but we all want to live no matter what pain is incurred or what trials we must endure. Its in our DNA to fight to live, to survive another day. It may be the strongest instinct we possess next to food and sex cravings - which are also there in order for us to survive. We don't know why Neeson and the others must keep fighting to live, we just know they must.
Few people ever give up on themselves, relatively speaking, and think of the brain power needed to overcome your own genes to commit suicide or decide to be euthanized. These decisions don't come lightly for most and usually, I assume, after tremendously long struggles with life. So if you want to watch some grisly men fight for their lives from flesh eating wolves - go see The Grey.
Recommended Viewing: The Way Back - How To Die In Oregon - Essential Killing
Bob Scale: Objective: 7.3 - Subjective: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 77