The Gray Man
Starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton
There is little gray in the Russo brothers’ latest colorful action thriller for Netflix. The Avengers/Captain America franchise directors apply their signature full tilt style of heavy edits, globetrotting locations and high-octane action sequences.
Netflix has a pattern of dropping these overly produced action flicks in the summer to rival whatever is playing in theaters. “The Gray Man” is its answer to the missing spy thriller in 2022.
It’s packed full of every action sequence you can imagine, including plane and train crashes, helicopter explosions, knife and knuckle fights and so on. It’s The Cheesecake Factory menu for action movies. The script doesn’t do any favors for the actors, especially Evans’ one liners.
A Gray Man is one who functions between the legal lines for the CIA. Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling) was plucked out of prison by recruiter Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), who developed the Sierra program, which consists of deadly mercenaries. Gentry exceeds even the highest expectations over the course of his career, lasting longer than his counterparts.
Corruption within the agency has Sierra assets taking each other out to cover the trail of someone up the latter ladder. Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), infamous for his psychopathic techniques, is brought in to take Gentry and the information he has uncovered out. The two opposing forces track each other around the globe leaving a wake of destruction.
It’s a lot of noise, both from sound effects to the pulse-pounding musical score, intended to keep us invested but instead makes bathroom breaks a welcome escape.
The Russos’ style has always involved overly choreographed fight sequences. More is more with these guys and subtly has no place in their movies.
For many, “The Gray Man” will be an assault on all the senses. It’s a lot of noise, both from sound effects to the pulse-pounding musical score, intended to keep us invested but instead makes bathroom breaks a welcome escape.
It’s “007” without the legacy, it’s “Mission Impossible” without the practical stunts and it’s also a culmination of every spy movie cliché rolled into one. The plane crash sequence in “Uncharted” is expanded on here, although this one might take the award for most spastic plane crash sequence ever assembled on film.
The script has does have a clever nod to Gosling’s upcoming role in the Barbie film as Ken, when Hansen refers to the handsome mercenary as a “Kendoll.”
Ana de Armas, who proved her spy flick worthiness in “No Time to Die,” receives far more screen time here, but it doesn’t prove as memorable as when the actress co-starred with Evans in “Knives Out.”
The Russos do make it a point to give the female characters equal strength to males, both in terms of physical, mental and screen presence. By the time we arrive as the 59th fight sequence to the investable conclusion, it’s both the characters and the viewers who look exhausted.
“The Gray Man” is non-stop assault on the senses as Marvel directors The Russo’s bring their over-produced style to Netflix.