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'The Grey': Liam Neeson's bleak atheist parable
Rating: 5.00


As an inveterate creature-feature junkie, I had to recruit my 17-year-old brother Monday night to see Liam Neeson's new action thriller The Grey.

The story is pretty simple: A motley crew of oil workers board their jet to return home from a long shift in the Alaskan winter. Somewhere over the Canadian Rockies, the plane suffers an inexplicable mechanical failure and nose-dives into the snowy tundra. The survivors the grey(led by Neeson's character) decide to strike out for shelter, but find themselves beset by a pack of ravenous and hulking CGI wolves. Predictably, the roster of human survivors quickly starts to dwindle. The perils of the northern winter also take their toll, leaving Neeson alone to make his final stand at the wolves' den, which he had hoped to avoid all along.

Amid flashbacks, we gather that Neeson's wife (or girlfriend) died tragically, leaving him without a solid reason to live. His sole comfort throughout the crash and subsequent battle against the wilderness is an existential poem his father penned:

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.

If the film were silent, nothing would have merited its R rating. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the script felt the need to use profanity so often it became comical.

But the real thrust of this story was about neither feisty critters nor foul language. It was atheism.

During a fireside debate about the transcendent (punctuated throughout with chilling howls), Liam Neeson's character confesses, "I don't believe in that stuff. I wish I could, but it's all fantasy. This is real," he says, gesturing to the dark forest. "Those things out there are real."

"I don't care about the next life," he says later. "I'd rather live this life."

Ironically, before the end we find him crying out to Heaven for help, demanding that God "prove Himself" by rescuing Neeson. The scene is brilliant -- calculated for maximum emotional impact. But it nevertheless retreads the standard atheist syllogism: God doesn't answer to my beck and call, therefore He doesn't exist (and I hate Him).

Not the film I was expecting. The biggest, nastiest wolf on the screen was philosophical, not literal. Oddly enough, I suspect it deceived a lot of people, too, despite wearing no sheep's clothing.

Comments:

"evidence against atheism? you mean evidence for you that there is god are words(besides fictional book)?"

Oh I see what you mean. I lost the line of conversation which is I suppose likely in thread necromancy.


No, Kemo, evidence against Materialism would not in itself be evidence for Theism let alone Christianity. There is still Animism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Dualism, Deism, and Non-Christian Theism to be examined. Evidence against materialism is simply evidence against materialism. The fact that there is a tug on your line does not in fact mean that you have caught a walleye; you might have caught a crawfish. It is however evidence that there is something on the other end of the line.
Kemo, Philosophical Materialism(which is what most people seem to mean by Atheism), is neither reinforced nor disproved by the admitted fact that it is hard to say who has the greater chance of natural suffering or happiness. The Problem of Evil is a difficulty about the nature of God, not his existence.

What discredits Materialism is the fact that humanity regularly engages in activities that are inexplicable on the assumption of a Materialistic universe. Activities like discussing whether or not Materialism is a probable philosophical theory.
I thought this movie was absolutely awesome, There was just something haunting about it that made it beautiful. The lesson it contained about survival and hope is also beautiful. If you have ever been to the oil rigs up there, you would realize that the amount of cussing in the movie is pretty accurate.
Reviewing The Grey
We are fans of Liam Neeson and felt great pain when his wife died tragically. So, after reading the reviews that were 4.5 out of 5 stars we set out to enjoy Neeson and what we thought was a survival movie. The reviews were off. I'd rate it about a 1 if you like Neeson. Who couldn't miss the obvious connection to his lost wife? But to leave God out of the equation completely was so shallow. At least acknowledge His hand in our lives. How could you not experience His presence in a survival situation such as that? All those men did not have one thought of God? The movie left us so wanting another rewrite of what could have been an interesting movie.
Three point:
1. I am sorry to say that I went with my 27 yr old daughter. So I am so sorry that you went with your 17 yr old brother.
2. If they removed the one prevalent expletive from the script, half the dialogue would be gone. How utterly sad.
3. Last but certainly not least is the expectation that one can live life without any regard for God and then expect Him to appear on command - like a genie in a bottle. We don't even expect that from fellow humans.
What a sad and very silly movie. Too bad I wasted my money.
Jason
No, you're right. It's not. I was not really concerned with the plight of Liam Neeson's fictional character so much as the attitude of the writer who created this screenplay in his comfy, climate-controlled office and purposely expressed that message.
"But it nevertheless retreads the standard atheist syllogism: God doesn't answer to my beck and call, therefore He doesn't exist (and I hate Him)."

Not the most diplomatic way to describe the state of mind of someone dying in the wilderness.
"I wonder if it's cheaper to use CGI wolves instead of flesh-and-blood ones. ("Those things out there are real."??? Snork.)"

Ah, that is beautiful irony!
"There are no atheists in..."
"... wolf dens."??

(Does the military even call them "foxholes" anymore?)

I wonder if it's cheaper to use CGI wolves instead of flesh-and-blood ones. ("Those things out there are real."??? Snork.)

And, I wonder if this movie was a bit autobiographical for Neeson - who's a widower.

It seems to me that most creature-features these days are just recycling Hobbes's "Leviathan", where society is all that stands between us and a nasty, brutish, short life. And therefore, the rules of society should be flexible to accommodate individuals; there are no ultimate evils or goods. (If Neeson's character was really reflective, he'd see that in the absence of an Imago Dei, becoming wolf food is nothing to get upset about.)
One thing that is to be noted is that being a materialist is a contradiction to materialism. There are no materialist cows only materialist humans.

Likewise, asking God to prove Himself is evidence against atheism. An animal wouldn't do so.