July 14, 2022

SCREEN | Shades of Action – Ryan Gosling Tracks 'The Gray Man'

"I can kill anybody."
Chris Evans Anthony & Joe Russo | The Gray Man Netflix
AGBO Films
Longtime Marvel filmmaking brothers Anthony and Joe Russo venture off into launching their own action blockbuster franchise by adapting author Mark Greaney's first novel in his popular series of the same name. The Gray Man is an unrelenting, high-octane assassin chase thriller that's both exciting yet hollow in execution.

Starring an A-list cast fronted by Ryan Gosling (after a five-year absence) and Chris Evans as duelling gray market CIA-hired assassin operatives, the latter revels in his character's unabashed sociopathy while riffing on his squeaky clean Captain America image. Their back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse hunt anchors the crux of the film's action-packed sequences. Scene-stealer Ana de Armas does plenty of heavy lifting as Gosling's reluctant sidekick with a fiery charisma of her own.

Sadly, the dynamic likes of Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Billy Bob Thornton, and Julia Butters fill out the overqualified cast without much to do aside from pushing paper as various degrees of shadowy CIA handlers in charge of a program designed to exploit hardened criminals as for-hire killing machines with little oversight—I mean what could go wrong?

Ana de Armas Anthony & Joe Russo | The Gray Man Netflix

Adapted on the page by Joe alongside frequent collaborators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, everything feels almost intentionally laid out to be generically familiar in the by-the-numbers scripting of the overstuffed boilerplate plot full of holes. We zip around to so many different cities and situations with little depth to get exposition out of the way while leaving little room for any slow burn character development.

It's thrilling and filled with almost too much dizzying (and very expensive looking) action in the vein of Jason Bourne or the Fast & Furious films, but The Gray Man bends over backwards to justify its needless sense of public violence seen in broad daylight across crowded European locales before a deeply convoluted and unsatisfying hand-wavey conclusion clearly designed to leave room for further franchise entries.

The Gray Man screens at the Rio Theatre on July 17th and 20th. It will be available to stream on Netflix starting July 22th.


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