Film: The Gray Man
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Dhanush, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Eme Ikwuakor, Scott Haze and Alfre Woodard
Director: Joe and Anthony Russo (The Russo Brothers)
Rating: 2.5 Moons
Netflix’s highly-anticipated and awaited film The Gray Man was touted to turn the spiraling fate of the streaming giant, what with a stellar star cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Dhanush, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege Jean-Page, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Eme Ikwuakor, Scott Haze and Alfre Woodard and direction by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, but the would-be blockbuster is another disappointment in its kitty. The Gray Man is supposedly the most expensive film for the streaming company with a budget close to $200 million which puts it alongside Red Notice (starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds) as having expenditure closer to a MCU film. Given that the directors are old Marvel veterans having directed Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame it comes as a surprise that they fail to deliver the goods.
The film is a mish-mash of several noteworthy action flicks like the James Bond films, Bourne trilogy and even Mission: Impossible thrown in with slick action but there stops the similarity because The Gray Man lacks the tense and gripping storyline that is the backbone of the others. The film isn’t too shoddy it’s just plain lackluster and could have been brushed aside if not coming from such noteworthy directors and mainstream popular actors.
The Gray Man follows a CIA agent known as Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling), who is a convicted murderer but is plucked from prison by a government agent (played by Billy Bob Thornton) to work for the CIA under a covert operation. Things are smooth when his old handler is on his case but it goes downhill when a change in management puts him under pressure. His new boss is the conniving and dishonest Denny Carmichael (Rege-Jean Page) and his assistant Suzanne Brewer (Jessica Henwick), who find themselves in a sticky situation when Six finds some encoded file with misdemeanors of the two and they eventually bring in Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to put an end to his threat. Six soon realizes that the only person he can trust in CIA is his fellow agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas). The storyline takes us on a world tour of 10 countries including Thailand and Azerbaijan towards the anticipated showdown between Six and Hansen.
The Gray Man does not provide anything new and unravels as the usual actioner with choreographed stunts and one-liners that does not garner your unwavering attentions. The overly-hyped film has a lot of razzmatazz but very less meat in its screenplay which leaves one wanting for more. Gosling and Evans try their best to salvage the film with their action and physical transformations but they are given extremely less room to exhibit their craft. Evans plays a self-proclaimed sociopath and his exuberance might give you a heady dose of saccharine and is on the brink of self-parody. He is never set up as an interesting threat, more so like the good spy vs the crazy spy. Gosling is the old-fashioned spy while Evans is the maniac out to just execute at random.
On the plus side, Dhanush’s fans will be happy as his small part as Lone Wolf is one of the best things in the film. The best brawl is between Dhanush and Ana and one hoped to see more of them in the film.
The film’s writers — Joe Russo along with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have written an exceptionally wanting screenplay which is the bane of the film. The story just does not do justice to such exceptional cast that the producers have managed to cast. The filmmakers do a good job of executing mayhem but the storyline fails to accelerate at the same pace. They also do no invest a lot of time in character development or tying up loose ends.
Despite well-crafted on a technical level the film has a wafer-thin plot that might prove to be a deterrent if Netflix wants it to make it a franchise. The Gray Man is popcorn entertainment at its best and is not something that will stay with you for a longer time.
PeepingMoon.com gives The Gray Man 2.5 Moons.