The Grey Movie Review: Liam Neeson Astounds

Liam Neeson owns The Grey. He commands every frame in the story of a group of Alaskan oil drillers whose plane crashes on their way home after a stint drilling in the Arctic.

The Grey Stars Liam Neeson
The film begins with Neeson doing his job at the refinery. Immediately, the Irish actor commands our attention. He is clearly a lost soul on the verge of self destruction. Yet, as soon as he awakes in the frozen tundra after the crash, Neeson’s Ottway emerges as a post facto leader. When a pack of wolves encircle the survivors, it is Ottway that grabs a torch and issues instructions that save everyone’s lives… for now.

Man versus nature cinema is littered with failed attempts at pitting the two in a battle to the death. The Grey reverses that trend by giving life to those the wolves want to kill. The film’s cast matches Neeson’s intensity and the end result is a crisp thriller that also possesses a ton of heart and surprisingly, a fair amount of humor.

Nonso Anozie, Frank Grillo, James Badge Dale, Dermot Mulroney and Dallas Roberts deliver in their characterizations that could have been caricatures in an action film. There are layers to each actor’s performance that brings the audience into their plight and pulls for them to make it out alive. Traipsing through the snow swelled landscape, the plane crash survivors have their integral individual moments in the movie’s trajectory. As such, we identify with each and every one of them.

At the end of the day, The Grey is the Liam Neeson show. When the film’s penultimate moment arrives, Neeson is able to bring the entire movie himself to a rallying conclusion, hardly saying a word.

Joe Carnahan, after working with Neeson on The A-Team, has shorthand with the actor and has presented his colleague a screenplay that lives and dies with his participation. Carnahan, for his part, packages the star in a film that plays to his strengths. The director allows his cast to flourish, but still keeps the main voice and visual focus on his lead.

The Grey possesses all sorts of elements that make it a must see. There is the spine tingling suspense. It has immense heart. The landscape is a marvel that simultaneously awes and could showcase death at every corner. Its cast brings their best and what emerges is an audience experience that not only relishes a two hour trip through top-notch thriller land, but also leaves one with a burgeoning fascination with the creatures who share history with those beasts who sit at our feet.

The Avengers Photos: Nick Fury Close-Up

The Avengers has been expertly peaking our interest as the weeks go by as we get ever closer to the film’s May 4 premiere. Marvel.com has released two new photos for us giving audiences a new look at Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and one of Mark Ruffalo (aka The Hulk) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) conferring on something that appears quite serious.

Samuel L. Jackson Stars in The Avengers
In The Avengers (check out the trailer), Fury is crossing the globe to assemble a superhero collective to fend off a global threat by none other than Thor’s bad guy Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers

Man on a Ledge Movie Review: Tons of Twists and Turns

Man on a Ledge asks a lot of its audience. The payoff is one smart thriller. Sam Worthington stars as a cop who is wrongly sent to jail when he is accused of stealing a massive diamond from Ed Harris. As the film begins, his brother (an excellent Jamie Bell) visits him in jail to tell him his father is dying. Worthington crawls back into his cell devastated. He is allowed to leave the prison to attend the funeral under the watchful eye of Sheriff’s deputies and prison guards. Those officers, his brother and his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are the memorial’s only attendees. When Worthington starts a fight with his brother, it causes a diversion that allows him to steal a truck and escape.

Elizabeth Banks and Sam Worthington in Man on a Ledge
The audience then follows Worthington into a posh Manhattan hotel where he checks in, has a little lunch and then heads out on the ledge, dozens of stories above the city’s streets. Quickly, someone notices and suddenly you have an old fashioned New York City freak show where hundreds gather to watch a man perhaps plummet to his death.

Only that is not all that is going on… as the Man on a Ledge trailer shows, Worthington is out there to right the wrong against him and seek revenge on the man who was responsible for putting him in jail. How it plays out over the next 90 minutes is a film that possesses a slew of twists and turns that will always leave you guessing how it will conclude.

Elizabeth Banks is a police negotiator charged with talking Worthington off the ledge. Also on the scene is Ed Burns, a fellow cop who has serious doubts whether this scene will end peacefully. Both have their own moments with Worthington throughout the film, particularly Banks. She is a tough as nails cop who has a dark secret herself that will play into the circus and whether it results in Worthington saved or flattened by the sidewalk below. It’s refreshing to see Banks in a role that seems to be the opposite of hers in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, or even her killer turn on 30 Rock.

Man on a Ledge is wildly original. It moves like an action movie, but also has all the elements of a solid thriller. At the center of it all is Worthington. His performance is pitch perfect and allows the audience’s questions to build throughout the film, never playing his cards until he has to. As such, although this is largely an ensemble film with its great cast, it is Worthington who carries it on his hulky shoulders. Although the world of the film has deemed him a crook and his brother firmly believes in his innocence, the truth finds its way to the forefront with brilliant pacing as delivered by the Australian actor.

Red Tails Quotes: We Fight!

Red Tails may have shocked pundits when it landed in second place at the box office last week, but not Movie Fanatic. The film from George Lucas is a harrowing tale of the true life sacrifice that the Tuskegee airmen endured to help ensure our freedom with their help in bringing down the Third Reich.

Elijah Kelley in Red Tails
As it is such an inspiring piece of work, the film has a slew of quotes that might even get you up, ready to saddle up and fly into battle. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is Major Emanuelle Stance, the man on the airbase in Italy charged with keeping his airmen inspired and primed for war. Colonel A.J. Bullard is played by Terrence Howard and it is him that finally gets America’s first African American fighting force a mission that actually helps the war effort.

Then, there are the pilots themselves played by some of the best up and coming actors we have. All told, they produce a solid film that not only lifts the spirits, but also reminds us how far we have come. Get ready for battle; here are the best of the Red Tails quotes.

Colonel A.J. Bullard: It’s damn hard to shoot down the enemy 100 miles behind the front lines. | permalink

Colonel A.J. Bullard: The only respect I have is for the uniform. | permalink

Major Emanuelle Stance: Get your head up son. | permalink

Colonel A.J. Bullard: You get us the mission, we’ll light up the board. | permalink

Joe ‘Lightning’ Little: From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last minute, to the last man, we fight! | permalink

General Luntz: I can’t afford the kind of losses my bombers have been suffering. Can you help save lives?
Colonel A.J. Bullard: If you get us new planes, we can help your boys. | permalink

Colonel A.J. Bullard: At all costs, you protect the heavies. | permalink

Joe Lightning Little: I think I did get myself killed. | permalink

Colonel A.J. Bullard: We have a right to fight for our country, the same as every other American. We will not go away. | permalink

Colonel A.J. Bullard: We count our victories by the bombers we get to their targets, by the husbands we return to their wives, by the fathers we give back to their children. To the last minute, to the last man we fight. We fight! | permalink

Monty Python Gang Will Reunite for Absolutely Anything

The news Monty Python fans have waited decades for has arrived: The group is getting back together. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin have announced plans to come back together for a sci-fi comedy called Absolutely Anything. Eric Idle has yet to confirm his participation in what Jones has stressed is not a Monty Python movie. “It’s a different thing. It’s not really that we’re all getting back together,” he said.

Monty Python Picture
Well, it’s hard to discern the difference between all the members, save Idle, gathering to appear in the same movie and not call it a reunion. Semantics, really, isn’t it?

Jones would direct, with Palin, Gilliam and Cleese portraying aliens and a few more roles. “In true Python tradition,” Jones added.

OK, so it’s not a Python reunion, but it is in the Python “tradition?” Whatever it is, fans of the group of UK comedians should be thrilled.