Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language & cruelty
Ryan Gosling as “Sierra Six”
Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen
Ana de Armas as Dani Miranda
Jessica Henwick as Suzanne Brewer
Regé-Jean Page as Denny Carmichael
Wagner Moura as Laszlo Sosa
Julia Butters as Claire Fitzroy
Dhanush as “Lone Wolf”
Alfre Woodard as Margaret Cahill
Billy Bob Thornton as Donald Fitzroy
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
When the CIA’s top asset — his identity known to no one — uncovers agency secrets, he triggers a global hunt by assassins set loose by his ex-colleague.
I knew of The Gray Man as it was coming up to its release date, one of the newest movies from the Russo Brothers post Avengers: Endgame. It’s an action spy film with a massive cast including Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. The movie looked like standard Netflix fare, but I went into it open minded; I found it passable.
The writing is a mixed bag to say the least. The Gray Man has a generic spy plot and as such it falls into many annoying cliches of the genre. I guess it is fine, but at a certain point the story stops mattering, as there’s a lot more importance placed on the set pieces. You kind of forget what the initial plot setup was by the third act. It is also hard to care about what’s going on despite the script’s best attempts. The characters aren’t that interesting, the only one who is remotely developed is Ryan Gosling’s protagonist. It makes an effort to make the character played by Julia Butters the heart and soul of the film, mainly with Gosling’s connection with her, but it feels lifeless and obligatory. The humour for the most part didn’t work, with some very dry jokes. The pacing is generally okay, but there is a section which has an extended flashback and while I get the reason for that section, it really halts the plot while it conveys the information. I get the feeling that the movie would’ve worked more if it came out in the 90s. As it is released today, its missing the charm that a movie like that might have. Not helping matters is the ending not feeling fully resolved, and its very clear that they were already intending to make sequels to this.
There is a massively talented cast here and while they are generally decent, none of them are doing great work. Ryan Gosling was the standout as the titular Gray Man. It’s certainly nowhere close to being one of Gosling’s best work by any means. However, he was pretty good with what he was given, it certainly helps that he’s the only character with any form of backstory or development. He was also quite convincing during the action scenes. Chris Evans plays a psychopathic ex-spy sent after Gosling in a rare villain role; it’s the type of role that John Travolta would’ve played in the 90s like Broken Arrow or Face/Off. It seems that Evans is a little miscast, even though he has played darker more villainous characters in other movies and done well at them. I think the problem is that the character is written quite generic, despite the movie deliberately showing how crazy he is. For this character to work, it would’ve required an actor who could deliver a certain kind of crazy to elevate it, unfortunately Evans is not that. For what its worth, at least it looks like he’s having fun and hams it up. It’s just a shame that despite the movie building up the concept of the two facing off, the two actors don’t share that much screentime. The supporting cast are fairly underutilised including Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Rege Jean-Page, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton and Julia Butters, but they are okay in their roles.
The Russo Brothers have delivered better in their previous movies, their work here is just fine. For a 200 million dollar budget movie, it could’ve been so much more. The movie is generally shot okay, but it can also look a bit bland visually. The action set pieces are nice and chaotic, however the cuts really take away from it. There are lots of drone shots, its fine but probably not as good as in other movies. It especially doesn’t help that earlier in the year, Michael Bay’s Ambulance utilised drone footage in a more exciting way. The Gray Man uses it an attempt to be flashy but ultimately it was pointless.
The Gray Man is a fairly entertaining yet forgettable spy movie, which is only memorable for the actors in it. As far as Netflix action movies go, it is on the better end but considering some of their other films, that isn’t saying a lot. Its okay. but you wouldn’t be missing much if you didn’t watch it, a shame considering the talent working in the movie.