Face-Off: The Edge vs. The Grey

Alejandro González Iñárritu's THE REVENANT begins a limited run this week and goes wide on January 8th (you can read our review here). While Iñárritu's film may not be the end-all be-all of survival films, it's certainly a welcomed entry into the genre. Films like CAST AWAY, THE MARTIAN, and 127 HOURS focus on a character surviving by himself, while THE REVENANT focuses on survival in the face of nature, wildlife, and- worst of all- other people. This is a bit of niche category, but two films we've seen before of this ilk include 1997's THE EDGE and the recent Liam Neeson sleeper hit THE GREY, so this week it's the battle of the grizzled outdoorsmen as they struggle to survive against the Alaskan wilderness, so bundle up, strap some tiny liquor bottles to your fists, and let's do this!
Anthony Hopkins delivers both an understated and transformative performance as billionaire Charles Morse. Hopkins explores a range of mental states, from reclusive and suspicious to pedantic and resourceful to downright beastly and maniacal.
Liam Neeson gives an excellent performance as huntsman John Ottway. If there's anything to say on the negative side of Neeson's performance, it's that it's nothing we haven't seen before. We're basically just watching Bryan Mills vs. wolves.
Alec Baldwin as Robert Green
Elle Macpherson as Mickey Morse
Harold Perrineau as Stephen
L.Q. Jones as Styles
Bart the Bear as The Freaking Bear

Baldwin could almost tie this one on his own, but the rest of the supporting cast has so little to do (except for the bear) that I can't really give THE EDGE a point here.
Frank Grillo as Diaz
Dermot Mulroney as Talget
Dallas Roberts as Henrick
Joe Anderson as Flannery
Nonso Anozie as Burke

Though Neeson is clearly the lead, THE GREY is definitely an ensemble piece, with each of the oil workers bringing their own personalities, backstories, and fears to the table.
Oh, that bear. Sure, it's a bit convenient to set up the plot point of "once a bear's tasted man, that's all he wants," but the ever-present threat creates constant tension and action throughout. Most importantly, we're treated to a large and very satisfying final battle, where we get to see our heroes take down their mutual enemy using the skills they've learned over the course of the film.
Remember the trailer for this film? Liam Neeson screaming and charging at a wolf? Yeah, that's the end of the movie. No big wolf battle. In general, the wolves feel a bit ridiculous here, both from an effects standpoint and the fact that they're portrayed as being vengeful and all around more human than is realistic.
David Mamet does what he does best here, showing man at his ugliest and giving each scene its own unique twist. This is certainly the kind of movie that could feel extremely contrived without a polished script.
Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers present us with a refreshing script that focuses more on character and belief than action. Both the plot and dialogue can feel forced and overly convenient at times, but there's still a lot to like.
Lee Tamahori takes full advantage of shooting on location, making THE EDGE a beautifully shot film. Otherwise, there's a bit of an unfortunate 90's feel here, with some moments feeling a bit dated.
Joe Carnahan's direction is really where THE GREY shines. Carnahan sets an inescapable mood, setting a bleak tone and driving home the fact that this is a film about the acceptance of death.
Domestic Total Gross: $27,873,386
IMDB: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 60% (70% audience score)
Roger Ebert: 3 stars
Domestic Total Gross: $51,580,236
IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (61% audience score)
Roger Ebert: 3.5 stars
Rewatching THE EDGE for this column was a delight, as I had forgotten what an enjoyable film it is. To that point, though, it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. Even though it's very well-made, there's little to it we haven't seen in Hollywood fare before or since.
Gun to my head, I might say THE EDGE is a more well-rounded, complete film than THE GREY, but the latter just stayed with me in a way the former did not. Basically, the overarching mood and contemplative nature of THE GREY is why I'm tipping the scale in its favor.
The Grey
This was a tough one. Both films are great in their own way, but I'm a sucker for an action film that turns out to be more than it seems (28 DAYS LATER, DRIVE, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, etc.). While THE EDGE can certainly give you cause to think, THE GREY forces you to consider death and your time on this earth in a way few films can. The fact that it can do that and still be a fun watch is no small feat and pushes it (ugh, sorry) over THE EDGE for me. I'm very curious to hear what you guys think, though, so let me know down below!

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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