Why We Will Boycott “The Grey”

Liam Neeson’s latest movie, The Grey, arrives in theatres everywhere today. No, this isn’t a film preview, review, or other free advertising for the flick. In fact, our goal is to have you not watch it. And if you care about protecting and respecting the long-mistreated canid, the grey wolf, maybe you’ll take our proscription to heart.

The film’s set-up is simple enough. A group of men are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness following a plane crash. They must use their wits to survive until they are either rescued, or able to find their way back to civilization. However, they soon find themselves in trouble, as a pack of wolves is apparently stalking them. Here’s a preview of the film:

There are a number of reasons we’ve organized a boycott of The Grey (which you can sign here). It’s not just because Liam Neeson and cast members dined on wolf meat as a bizarre sort of method acting. Or that real dead wolves were used as props in the film itself. Though we feel for the four dead wolves who served as either props or the main course of an adventurous eating club, the danger posed to our four-footed friends by this film is more widespread than that.

The Grey has the potential to act as a $35 million propaganda campaign against wolves, at the very same time that they have just been removed from the Endangered Species lists of several western states. Hunting wolves just became legal again, and it was the propagation of horror stories and myths (along with some tempting bounties) that caused the near eradication of the grey wolf in North America in the first place.

Wolf extermination (it went beyond normal hunting) began in earnest in the early 1800s, and by 1926, wolves were completely extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. By the 1970s, less than a thousand wolves remained in the lower 48 of the United States. All along, as the animals became more rare, people had less and less actual experience to contradict the false rumors they were hearing. A “shoot first, ask questions never” policy prevailed.

The reality is that wolves generally avoid both humans and human settlements, and play an important role in parkland ecosystems. Though they’ve been caricatured throughout history as cunning, yellow-eyed monsters out to steal children, we know better now. Thus it’s all the more perplexing that a 2012 movie would portray them so dishonestly if it expects to be taken seriously.

The wolves of The Grey more closely resemble werewolves or demons than any kind of living creature in nature. One character opines that they’re not trying to kill the men out of hunger, but because “we don’t belong here.” Ascribing such human motives to wolves is laughable, at best.

If I can switch gears, and put on my film critic hat for a moment, there’s at least one more reason not to watch this movie. There’s such a thing as artistic license when it comes to some of the smaller details in a narrative. But there needs to be an emotional truth that the story holds to.

I believe that art, ethics and truth are all closely related. It frankly doesn’t matter how carefully a stark atmosphere is created, how cleverly the barren wastes mirror a broken man’s soul, if your core premise rings false. Wolves are beautiful, ultimately cautious creatures. They aren’t supernatural, evil or a metaphor for any human concept. They aren’t the hand-that-strikes of a pantheistic conception of nature. Whatever they are, the creatures depicted in this film are not wolves.

Give this one a pass, and tell your friends to avoid it as well.

Related stories:

Settlement Over Wolf Delisting Divides Conservation Groups

Conservation Groups Challenge Courts to Protect Wolves

Should Auld Species Be Forgot?

Photo credit: Gunnar Ries Amphibol


Larry C.
Chris Berger3 years ago

Wild wolves don't fear humans as much as some people. Take a leisurely walk through the dense woods of Northern Wisconsin or Northern Minnesota with your pet dog and you might get lucky enough to see a pack of wolves 100 yards behind you following your footsteps. Nobody I know who ACTUALLY lives in those two areas would EVER do that.

Oh, and I thought the movie lacked an engaging plot.

Dawna R.
Dawna R.4 years ago

I watched the movie and I loved it. During the entire movie, I wasn't thinking "Oh noes, wolves will come eat me!" why? Because its a movie based on fiction. Instead of boycotting this movie (which will not do much at all) how about we all boycott stupidity? Because you have to be mighty stupid to let some movie be the basis of your education in this world.
I know wolves don't hunt you down and attack groups of humans. I know the majority of the wolf facts were made purely for this film. Im not an idiot. And, frankly, I am offended that you would assume I was. (I'm just another American offended at something *eye roll*)
The point is, focus on the issue. Not the side shows that have nothing to do with the issues. You are wasting your time and energy on projects that could benefit your cause a lot more. Just sayin.

Oliver S.
Oliver S.4 years ago


What makes you think I'm not/don't? I wrote my first anti-trapping letter to the editor of the Rocky Mountain News when I was twelve. Did my first speaking engagement to try to encourage the abolishment of traps later that same year to a crowd of 2000. I started volunteering at a wolf sanctuary when I was 14, studied canid ethology at CU under Marc Bekoff, participated in data acquisition for the first round of wolf reintroductions a few years later, and have hand raised nearly two dozen wolves, many of which have been used for education about wolf behavior and wildlife conservation. I've consulted with a number of zoos on their wolf exhibits and am currently raising another pup as a species ambassador.

There are few people on the planet that have devoted as much time and money or more of their heart and mind to the wolf cause than I have.

As a result, I think my opinion has considerable weight and what Carnahan, Neeson and the rest of the cast of this movie did (as well as the film itself) is an abomination. I defy anyone to stand against me and reasonably argue otherwise. You want to try now?

Lea J.
Lea J.4 years ago

Just saying, I know the screenwriter for this movie and his intentions were nothing but entertainment - rather than boycotting his movie, which (without publicity) can have no effect on the "bad rap" the movie gives wolves, why not spend your time promoting wolf protection?

Lea J.
Lea J.4 years ago

Just saying, I know the screenwriter for this movie and his intentions were nothing but entertainment - rather than boycotting his movie, which (without publicity) can have no effect on the "bad rap" the movie gives wolves, why not spend your time promoting wolf protection?

Lea J.
Lea J.4 years ago

Just saying, I know the screenwriter for this movie and his intentions were nothing but entertainment - rather than boycotting his movie, which (without publicity) can have no effect on the "bad rap" the movie gives wolves, why not spend your time promoting wolf protection?

Debbie Phillips
Debbie Phillips4 years ago

Tiffany, you OBVIOUSLY know NOTHING about wolves! I have had wolves as pets for the past 20 years, my husband has had wolves as pets for 20 years before that! That is a combination of SIXTY YEARS of wolf experience. Wild wolves will AVOID humans when ever possible, as they are extremely timid. Wolves as pets really are more like little people with fur coats on. They are far more intelligent, more loving, more protective and more loyal than any "dog." Education erases ignorance. Ooooops, let me use smaller words so you can understand. LEARNING takes away stupid opinions that have NO basis in facts. Tiffany, you need to learn AT LEAST A LITTLE bit about something before you open your puke hole to demonstrate your stupidity.

Arienne de Vassal

Um, ever hear of a little Oscar award winning movie called Schindler's List? One of the best movies ever made and Neeson was in the title role. He's in a lot of good movies. I don't like the thought of him eating wolf, I think that's gross, but he is a good actor and had a loving relationship with his wife, Natasha Richardson, until she died of a brain injury from a ski accident.

Sean W.
Sean W.4 years ago

Oliver S. I didn't say HE was an enjoyable person i said his MOVIES were, like Taken. I don't normally like him anyway, just saying that just because a few bad movies make him bad, it overshadows what he did GOOD. (I don't know what he did good, but a few movies were ;) )

Oliver S.
Oliver S.4 years ago

Sean S. I think I've already explained why a movie can be harmful to a species of animal so I'm going to address only your comment about Liam Neeson -- did you read the other terrible thing they did with this movie? The director, Joe Carnahan used two wolf carcassas for props in the film - dead wolves he purchased from a professional trapper. And then they decided that it would be good to eat a couple of wolves to "help the actors get into character". As the major star in the movie, Liam Neeson would certainly have had the pull to put a stop to these horrible and misguided ideas, but instead he not only went along with it, he bragged about "going back for seconds".


This is behavior that makes the man ugly beyond all measure.

Do you have any idea of the terrible suffering being trapped inflicts on an animal? The terror? The pain? Many animals will chew off their own foot to escape a trap, only to die of the injury later or starve to death because an animal with three legs cannot hunt effectively.

Please reconsider your position on Liam Neeson. It's not because he made a bad movie but because he is clearly a morally bankrupt person!