The Gray Man (Review)

⭐⭐ (Poor)

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Rege-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton 
Certificate: 15
Run Time: 129 mins

The Gray Man is the hotly anticipated project from The Russo Brothers and Netflix’s joint largest budget film to date along with Red Notice. After a shaky start in comedy, the Russo’s enjoyed a healthy stint at Marvel. They directed some of the most cherished entries – Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame

Post-Marvel, the Russo’s have kept themselves busy. They directed the crime war drama Cherry last year, which I found to be an ambitious if flawed exploration of the cost of war. They’ve also produced some action films such as 21 Bridges and the better-than-expected Extraction and the critically acclaimed absurdist Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Gray Man is a James Bond-influenced espionage thriller and sees the Russo’s reunite with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The quartet have proved time and time again they are able to craft intelligent scripts with an equal amount of brain to brawn.

The film centres on ‘Sierra Six’ (Ryan Gosling), an ex-convict offered his freedom by a CIA senior official Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) in exchange for working as an assassin. The film picks up eighteen years later in Bangkok and Fitzroy has now retired. The mission in Bangkok goes awry and Six discovers his life is on the line. All hell breaks loose and action mayhem ensues. 

The Gray Man is fairly entertaining but ultimately is a disappointment, considering the talent involved. This has got to be one of the most unintelligent films I have seen in quite some time and the script is on-the-nose and generic. The action isn’t particularly kinetic either. It’s CGI-heavy and the visual effects are surprisingly ropey for its extravagant $200 million budget. The film never really takes a moment to breathe either and that results in next to no character development. 

There’s a couple of fun performances to be had. Ryan Gosling is always reliable as a lead and Chris Evans hams it up in a villainous role. The ever-versatile Ana de Armas isn’t given all that much to do, which is a shame considering her action chops in films such as No Time To Die. There’s a brief but giddy performance from Wagner Moura and Billy Bob Thornton always turns in a reliable performance. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s Julia Butters is also a highlight as Fitzroy’s clinically vulnerable niece and gets the bulk of the film’s character development.

Henry Jackman’s score is all over the place and sometimes aggressively doesn’t fit with the action on-screen. The cinematography by Stephen F. Windon is also obtrusive and there’s an over reliance on shaky drone footage. 

The Gray Man does what it says on the tin and delivers on its action promise but that’s about it. It’s disappointingly thin both in story and character development and considering the back catalogue of the crew, the result should have been better than it is. 

⭐⭐ (Poor)

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