Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Liam Neeson

QuickView: The Grey (2011)

The Grey poster

“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.”


Joe Carnahan’s survival thriller falls squarely into the grizzled man versus nature blueprint, Liam Neeson leading a handful of oil workers through the Alaskan wilderness as they are stalked by a pack of wolves. The Grey explores the human reaction to becoming prey, fear of the wolves being as dangerous to the group as the wolves themselves. The action is sparing, with suspense crafted more through the push and pull of threat and stand-off, fire being the group’s strongest tool both as a defence and to stave off the freezing temperatures. Whilst it may lack the audaciously complex cinematography of Iñárritu’s The Revenant, there is still a sense of beauty and grandeur to the vast and desolate snow-covered landscape. Only a few characters are developed during the film’s quieter moments, most notably Frank Grillo’s Diaz, who initially seems a stereotypical contrarian antagonist. The Grey‘s abrupt ending will frustrate some viewers though it is what I anticipated and, I think, what works best for the film; a few seconds of post-credits footage offer slightly more certainty for those who require it.


QuickView: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs poster

“They’re so easily taken when they are distracted, people are.”


There is a level of sleight of hand in selling six short films as a feature length release when they are essentially unconnected beyond their Western setting. Eccentric characters in farcical situations are a Coen Brothers staple but brevity leaves them feeling more like caricatures from Tim Blake Nelson as the titular crooning gunslinger of the opening tale to Tom Waits’ gold prospector to James Franco’s ill-fated bank robber. The exception is the penultimate tale, The Gal Who Got Rattled, which stands out as the best segment by some margin — its greater length allows its key players to develop so that we actually come to care about the events that befall them. The otherworldly final tale, in which strangers converse during a journey in a station wagon (with longform dialogue reminiscent of Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight but with none of the tension), hints at intended depth behind these dark morality plays that is never properly conveyed. The Coens’ signature style — aided by several strong performances — is still enough to sell the collection, but it falls short of the mark.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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