Saturday 23 July 2022

The Gray Man (Movie Review)

Netflix has been in the news a lot lately, as the company continues to struggle amidst an evolving streaming landscape. It hasn't all been bad news or lost subscribers though, with the streamer managing to score some major viewership wins through the most recent season of Stranger Things. And now it is once again making a play for theater quality thrills with its latest spy thriller, The Gray Man. But considering a price tag that ranks the film as one of its most expensive, the question becomes whether or not this new blockbuster even manages to justify its existence.

The film stars Ryan Gosling as Sierra Six, a black ops mercenary working for the CIA. He soon finds himself becoming the agency's latest target after he comes into possession of some incriminating evidence. In a bid to stop him, the agency resorts to enlisting the services of a former agent named Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans). But Lloyd proves to be a little more than they can handle, after he shows his willingness to go to any lengths to bring down his target, with no regard for collateral damage.

If it sounds like you've heard that synopsis before then it's probably because you have. Because for all its blockbuster ambitions, The Gray Man is yet another cookie-cutter spy thriller about the shady dealings of intelligence agencies. That is not to say that its derivativeness is an immediate death sentence to the film's prospects, but it surely won't be scoring any points for originality. Where it does attempt to set itself apart from those that came before it though is in its scope and execution.

Much like the novel it is based upon, the movie finds our lead embroiled in an adventure of international espionage. And Ryan Gosling slips into the role of Sierra Six like a glove, with a performance that strikes the right balance between stoic and self-aware. Ana De Armas is likewise very badass as his partner, Dani, although her turn in this film was nowhere as scene-stealing as the one she'd given in No Time to Die. But the biggest standout was of course Chris Evans, who fully embodies the unhinged nature of the film's main antagonist with a performance that could be considered mustache-twirling but comically so.

The movie also looks good for the most part, although I suspect that might depend on your tolerance for its overreliance on drone shots and shaky cam footage. It is also well-paced, never seeming to lose any steam during its two-hour runtime. The Russo brothers clearly know how to keep viewers engaged as they've proven time and time again in their MCU offerings, and they know just when to drop the big setpiece moments that have since grown to define their work.

Some of the action sequences in their latest film are genuinely thrilling to watch, especially if you like over-the-top stunts of the Michael Bay variety. There was one particular chase scene involving a train that is guaranteed to have action junkies at the edge of their seats, showcasing where most of the $200 million production budget went. But anyone expecting thrills of a more cerebral kind would be best off tempering those expectations beforehand.

The Gray Man is ultimately let down by an all-too-familiar story that is just serviceable enough to see it through to the finish line. Its three main stars help to pick up some of the slack, while its action scenes at least give viewers something bright and shiny to ogle at. But none of that is enough to save what essentially feels like another soulless action film being churned out by Netflix in a bid to pad out their growing library of on-demand movies.


  1. If this were on Amazon Prime, Hulu, or one of the other services I subscribe to I'd probably give it a watch, but it doesn't sound like the kind of thing where I'd deliberately go sign back up for Netflix just to watch it.

    1. Lol. Fair enough. But yeah, I wonder if such movies actually translate to new or returning subscribers. 🤔