The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) aim to continue their success after their monumental Marvel breakthrough. Having failed to replicate that with 2021’s Cherry, Netflix’s far more marketable The Gray Man looks to demonstrate what directing capabilities these brothers have outside of the superhero caper.
When CIA operative Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling) becomes in the possession of some dark agency secrets, he finds himself at the tail end of a brutal cat and mouse chase, with the psychopathic douche tache donning Chris Evans (as Lloyd Hansen) on the hunt. The Gray Man sprints from one action sequence to the next as it relentlessly pits these two highly skilled professionals to outwit and outmanoeuvre each other.
The Gray Man is one of Netflix’s most highly budgeted projects and after the success the Russo’s found with working for Marvel, it’s clear to see why the company would feel so obliged to throw any wild figure at the directors if they believe they could make even a third of the profit that any of their prior projects could rake in. And with an exciting A-list cast consisting of Gosling, Evans and Ana de Armas (just to name a few) it would already appear that they are well on their way.
Sadly the performances of its primary cast, and the energy they bring to their roles perhaps isn’t alone worth the huge pay-out that’s been awarded. Gosling is as charismatic as ever here and his role as the heavy handed CIA operate looks like as perfect an audition as any for the consideration of the now void Bond role (if the sin of casting an non Brit is to be committed). Evans looks like he’s having the time of his career as the unusually cast baddie-with-balls. Having been the poster boy American hero throughout the later stages of his career it’s a refreshing step back.
Although fun and jam packed, its frenetic pacing quickly becomes tiring. Jumping from one harmonious action piece to the next with such reckless abandon, as it throws you around the globe quick enough that you start to feel the effects of jetlag and you get lost where you are on the map, and the only clues you’re given is through whatever script padding is spewed in high quantities. Worse yet is you can tell which sets have been digitally whipped up in the studio and which they actually been bothered to shoot in person. The effects, editing and blending often look muddy and the final product does indeed look rather grey, man.
Aeroplane shootouts, plenty of hand to hand combat, explosions galore, this really is an action movie for better or worse. A 90’s styled espionage thriller with a modern (and overly trite) CGI sheen. Much like its character’s leads, this movie rarely gives you the time to breathe. With very little substance and even less subtlety, The Grey Man starts quick and demands you to keep up. It has very little to show for its whopping $200 million budget, but at least the stars are having a blast and the screentime shared between them (particularly its leads) is where The Gray Man truly succeeds.