Ask anyone who’s seen The Grey and they’ll probably say the same thing: “Good movie, but not seeing the final battle between Liam Neeson and the wolf was a bit of a let-down.”
We get it; director/screenwriter Joe Carnahan made an artistic decision. As a way of emphasizing the journey over the destination, he omits what would have been an exciting but potentially distracting finale. The problem is, most people just don’t care. After sitting through a film that clocks in at 157 minutes, we wanted to see some blood.
And don’t think that after-credits scene showing that Neeson won the fight was a satisfying substitute, Mr. Carnahan!
Related Article: EXCLUSIVE: Check Out This Jaw-Dropping Deleted Scene from “Insidious: The Last Key”
7 years later, fans (and writers like me) still can’t fully forgive the what feels like a dirty trick, and it’s especially frustrating when we learn that a fight scene was actually filmed—and still exists. Carnahan promised fans at an early screening of the film at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica:
“Listen, I’ll put it in the deleted scenes,” Carnahan told the audience, who was applauded for keeping the ending as currently constituted. “We did a version where he fights the alpha [wolf] and I just thought, the worst thing you could do is get a movie that you feel like ‘God, this movie really works and at the very end you blow it because you wanted to show a guy fighting a wolf.’” (Source)
Anyone who bought the Blu-ray/DVD can tell you, however, no such deleted scene was included.
So, the footage exists, Carnahan knows we want to see it, he’s promised we’ll get to see it one day—but so far, he simply hasn’t. It’s a shame, in my opinion, since The Grey might otherwise have been remembered as a paradigm of 21st Century survival horror. Instead, it’s almost branded with an asterisk: The movie that gets you all worked up and then leaves you fully unsatisfied.
Had the scene been included, I doubt anyone would have said, “You know what, I almost loved The Grey, but I really wish they hadn’t shown Neeson fighting the alpha wolf.” Until Carnahan finally gives up the goods, the closest we can get is this single shot of storyboard the director was gracious enough to share with his Twitter followers in 2013.
Thanks for (almost) nothing! You can hear more about The Grey’s controversial ending and the film’s legacy in the video below from The Fact Fiend (a show best enjoyed with a pint or two). Give it a spin and weigh in with your opinion in the Comments section! Do you think The Grey would have been better if it included a final fight scene? Sound off in the Comments section!
Official Synopsis: We’d turn up at the cinema to watch Liam Neeson fight, well, anything! Kidnappers, terrorists, wolves… Well as it turns out that there is actually footage of the latter, but we may never get to see it.
Official Synopsis: Following a grueling five-week shift at an Alaskan oil refinery, workers led by sharpshooter John Ottway (Liam Neeson) are flying home for a much-needed vacation. A brutal storm causes their plane to crash in the frozen wilderness, and only eight men (Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney), including Ottway, survive. As they trek southward toward civilization and safety, Ottway and his companions must battle mortal injuries, the icy elements, and a pack of hungry wolves.