Another week, another trailer, and another inevitably shattered dream of experiencing a movie void of complete surprise having witnessed said teaser.
Liam Neeson is big both in physical stature and as a film star. He’s featured in some of the great (Schindler’s List) and the not-so-great (The A-Team) movies over the decades, but since 2008′s Taken, he has reinvented himself as a bit of an action hero, setting himself up perfectly for Joe Carnahan’s tale of what was billed as ‘Liam Neeson batters wolves’ (again, relating back to his interesting career direction he assumed in the surprisingly likeable Taken).
The Grey focuses on a group of oil workers that crash-land in the Alaskan wilderness who quickly realise they’re being sniffed out by a pack of peckish wolves. And the great thing is that the film is actually a lot more than simply knocking ten bells out of the native nippers, which proves a much more satisfying movie as a result.
*If you’ve not seen the film then the analysis that follows contains spoilers*
What the trailer reveals
However, what the trailer does is quite sneaky. It does a great job of setting up a really tense and atmospheric story of stranded men in the middle of a snowy nowhere and makes you genuinely excited to see what Carnahan has to offer (he did, after all, give us the wonderful Narc).
We are shown a number of revealing moments that — unless you see the trailer in retrospect of the film — do so in a daring yet contextually non-obvious way. With no prior knowledge the revelations aren’t as obvious as in hindsight, but nevertheless still manage to offer a little too much of the plot rather than leaving it to speculation.
The moments that are cause for concern are, firstly, the set up. Not a lot is left unsaid, as the actual crash and initial fate of Neeson reassure us that he survives unhurt, but the references to his wife could have been — I feel — left to the film to explore, as it still needs some fresh elements to explore directly from the cinematic experience.
Secondly, the most debatable spoiler is how, towards the end of the trailer, it reveals the end ‘fight’ scene between Neeson and the so-called leader of the wolf pack. To an unsuspecting viewer though, this is merely one of numerous encounters or perhaps even a pinnacle scene at some point rather than the outcome of the film. What people don’t necessarily realise is that it is the entire ending as he tapes miniature broken bottles to his knuckles; the black wolf circling him; before charging towards it like a crazed beast himself. This is actually where the film ends; void of closure or an actual physical fight. It’s also the most memorable part of the trailer and indeed the most poignant part of the film, so the heightened tension and intensity is taken away because we’ve seen the shots beforehand. So, referring back to the iconic shot of the trailer, and with this imagine in mind, you are constantly wondering ‘when’s Neeson going to knuckle duster himself up for the wolf fight?’. The fact it doesn’t come till the (inevitable) end spoils what the narrative has built upon and the fear of the wild is now somewhat predictable.
Putting the ending in the trailer was a mistake, as when it does arrive, it feels like somewhat of an anti climax when the rest of the film is actually rather strong.
A spoiler-filled trailer in a non-traditional, non-obvious sense, The Grey’s can be taken at face value and passively enjoyed as a precursor to the film. However, for those who remember the key elements (the bottle knuckle duster specifically) will have quite a different experience with those pinnacle seconds that come across as slightly underwhelming because it had already been experienced.
Spoiler rating: 5/10