With ‘The Gray Man’, the Russo’s deliver a slick old school thriller. Packed with impressive set pieces and a superb supporting cast, this should be a real winner for Netflix
The Gray Man brings solid action and high-speed thrills at every turn with a cast of memorable characters. all working their own selfish angles. It’s a predictable and not particularly original story-yes you have seen it all before. But when it’s done this well, should we really complain?!
Plus, if you wanted unpredictability and originality in an action film, you should have watched ‘Everything Everywhere all at Once‘ like I advised (review), I still don’t know some of what I was watching but it was fantastic! Back to ‘The Gray Man’, The Russo brothers said they set out to make the type of thrillers they watched growing up with their dad and they succeeded. It’s a well-executed modern take on a classic genre.
Ryan Gosling stars as ‘Sierra 6’, one of the last surviving agents from the CIA’s aging ‘Gray Man’ program. Designed to deploy anonymous agents in ‘off the books’ executions and asset retrievals. They have no files, no relatives, or ties- they are basically expendable if they get killed, ‘Sierra 6 (Evans) is recruited from prison by CIA handler ‘Fitzroy’, played by Billy Bob Thornton. The deal on the table is to work in this black op’s group for an undisclosed amount of time in exchange for years off his prison sentence. Think of it like the Suicide Squad without any supervillains.
Sierra 6 (Gosling) is sent to retrieve some intel ‘vital to National Security’. During the mission, he discovers the drive potentially exposes a conspiracy and some corruption within the CIA. Sierra 6 goes rogue and the CIA under the command of ambitious and ruthless bureau chief Carmichael (Rege-Jean Page), arrange an operation to track him and retrieve the stolen intel. While on the run, 6 is assisted by his formal handler Fitzroy as well as honest CIA agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas).
On the other side of the coin, in an attempt to keep the operation off the books, the CIA enlist the help of a number of private contractors, led by a fully ‘tashed up’ and deliciously evil Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen. Lloyd really brings a lot of fun to proceedings and it’s a testament to Chris’s likeability as an actor that even while torturing Billy Bob Thornton, you still can’t help but like him. The movie also marks the debut for Indian actor Dhanush, who is well known in Tamil cinema and really makes an impressive almost scene stealing debut as one of the contractors hired to take out Sierra 6.
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This is not an original story by any means. The CIA corruption/rogue agent storyline has been done many times before. The Russo’s have no intention of making you think too hard over a complicated and convoluted storyline. Everything is kept simple enough for everyone to follow proceedings. The fight choreography is hard hitting and effective without being overly flashy. The set pieces are well designed and there are enough action scenes to please fans of the genre. Even the usually deadpan Gosling springs to life when sparring and trading blows with Evans, making for some sizzling exchanges.
The Gray Man is a solid on the rail’s thriller with no real twists. Things proceed as you expect and there are no real shocks or surprise moments. It not the best thriller I’ve seen but its execution is top notch. Elevated by the Russo’s skilful direction, great pacing and a fantastic, committed supporting cast. It was great to finally see Ana de Armas delivering on the role she should have had in ‘No Time to Die and being allowed to shine. I suspect there is a lot more to come from her in the future
I had the opportunity to attend a cinema screening of the film and it felt right at home on the big screen. I don’t know how well it will translate once released to stream next week. But for now, this is a 200million dollar investment that appears to have paid off for Netflix and should deliver them a pleasing and enjoyable sure-fire hit.
The Gray Man hits cinema screens on July 15th and starts streaming on Netflix a week later on July 22nd