In Layman's terms, it's a Gosling vs. Evans showdown, which unfortunately sounds more exciting and promising than it actually was.
Written by Becca Johnson / July 27, 2022
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame) and starring Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Chris Evans (Knives Out) and Ana de Armas (No Time To Die), The Gray Man is Netflix's new big action flick. When a skilled CIA mercenary uncovers dark agency secrets, he becomes a primary target who is hunted around the world by a psychopathic former colleague.
The movie undeniably boasts a killer cast, and whilst none of our stars give career best performances, they all deliver. Ryan Gosling has already proven he is more than competent in leading roles, especially where action is involved, and The Gray Man is no exception. Chris Evans clearly enjoys being in a villainous role, as previously hinted by past projects. The Gray Man allows him a little more freedom and fun with it, and he manages to be pretty convincing, despite the moustache. Ana de Armas is a good addition as always, and it's interesting to see Bridgeton's Rege-Jean Page do something a little different. They tried their best to elevate the material; it's not the performances that are the problem here.
As proven within the MCU, the Russo's have an understanding of what they're doing when it comes to this genre, or more accurately, an understanding of what sells. Many aspects of their previous work filter into The Gray Man, with several engaging action sequences. Despite the middle of the road rating, there is a great deal of fun to be had with its visuals, explosions and fight scenes. The Prague scene in particular is gaining a lot of interest, and rightly so; it's a pretty remarkable sequence. The movie rarely pauses for a breath as it takes its audience on a whirlwind journey around the world. It's a superhero movie without the superheroes, a big action blockbuster that deserves a bigger screen.
Unfortunately, some watchable performances and a handful of entertaining action scenes are where the fun ends. In true Russo fashion, the plot is way too convoluted to get behind. It attempts to have heart by adding in plot points that either don't seem to fit or are forgotten about, such as a young female character having a pacemaker that the characters only seem to be mindful of during the first two acts. Overall, it feels messy and at times confusing, with no noticeable structure or emotional pull. Though it was colourful and bold in terms of visuals, the occasionally shoddy CGI was unforgivable and forces one to wonder where the 200 million dollar budget was actually spent. The pacing feels off throughout, and though every minute attempts to build to a satisfying face off between our two leads, it's pretty anticlimactic, predictable and is over pretty soon. All the ingredients are here, but the writing needed to be more finely tuned in order to bring everything together more cohesively.
The Gray Man is unfortunately a movie that audiences have seen before, more than once. It's schlocky action, unhinged villain and corrupt agency plot offer some blockbuster-esque fun here and there, but it struggles to feel fresh and new despite it's modern feel. Many may be inclined to press play purely based on the cast, and in that department it won't disappoint; all three leads are unsurprisingly enjoyable. Fans of action thrillers may also walk away feeling impressed, as it has many sequences that provide fights, explosions and gripping escapism filtered throughout. However, if you've seen the trailer, you've basically seen the film; it is an underwhelming affair that sounds great on paper, but isn't executed well enough to be memorable.