I must say, I was starting to worry about whether Martin Scorsese had sold his soul to the Hollywood media elite after a couple of decades of producing such shameless Disney-fied fluff as The Aviator and Hugo or bloated, pedestrian epics like The Departed and Gangs of New York. But with Silence, a visually haunting historical drama about several Jesuit priests’ struggles between faith and temptation in the face of religious persecution in 17th-century Japan, the veteran director has atoned for his past sins.
Few films have more hauntingly portrayed Mother Nature’s simultaneous beauty and brutality than The Revenant, an austere man-versus-nature saga set in the untamed wintry wilderness of early-nineteenth-century America. With grit, finesse, and a fine eye for photographic detail, director Alejandro Iñárritu brings to life a survival story whose blood-drenched imagery indelibly imprints itself in the imagination, its visceral realism rarely failing to get beneath our skin despite a few far-fetched plot elements and, at a little under three hours, a somewhat-too-leisurely running time.
The best I can say for The Grey is that it’s appropriately titled, for it’s as drab and predictable as visible breath on a wintry morn. Evidently, its director, Joe Carnahan, thought he’d try to raise this clichéd man-versus-nature tale a notch or two on the intelligence scale by infusing it with fireside-chat philosophizing about the existence of God and pseudo-heartwarming reminiscing on estrangement from loved ones and the comforts of civilization. In that way, it might have even greater appeal for the teenie-boppers at heart who want to convince themselves that the film is making much of a point beyond exciting in the viewer the chill-and-thrill sensation of not knowing when blood-dripping wolf jaws will lunge out from the omnipresent gloom of the Alaskan hibernal wilderness.