‘The Gray Man’ is a Forgettable Good Time, and Sometimes That’s More Than Enough

Of course the evil, mustachioed Chris Evans steals the film.


By Rob Hunter · Published on July twenty seventh, 2022

Netflix has had a fairly bumpy experience with it’s Original motion movies. They’ve discovered success with comparatively smaller films like Kate and Extraction, however their makes an attempt to ship star-filled motion/comedies has resulted in turds like Red Notice and The Man from Toronto. That historical past would counsel that their newest endeavor, the $200 million worldwide murderer thriller, The Gray Man, is destined for the trash heap, however shock! Turns out a film can have quite a few points whereas nonetheless delivering an entertaining time full of stable motion and outsized character.

We first meet the quickly to-be-named Six (Ryan Gosling) as a younger man serving a lengthy sentence for killing his abusive father. A stranger named Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) arrives providing him a gig as a CIA murderer, and years later he’s one of many company’s finest. When his newest goal passes alongside important intel concerning Six’s boss, Carmichael (Reg-Jean Page), he finds himself on the run from dozens of worldwide killers led by an ex-CIA, now freelance whackjob, named Lloyd (Chris Evans). The chase leaves a path of carnage and destruction via Europe as Six races to save lots of a younger lady held hostage by madman Lloyd and his trigger-happy henchmen.

The preferrred adaptation of a novel walks a advantageous line in capturing the ebook’s strengths, character, and narrative middle whereas nonetheless being its personal factor. Changes between mediums are inevitable, but when a movie retains the soul of the ebook the percentages of it being a success are vastly improved. Mark Greaney‘s 2009 novel is a slick, entertaining, tactical-oriented story of an ex-CIA murderer on the run from a global assortment of killers. The motion is frequent and explosive however grounded, the characters are well drawn, and the story is easy and propulsive. Anthony & Joe Russo‘s 2022 adaptation of The Gray Man is… a few of these issues whereas nonetheless discovering greater than a few of its personal highlights alongside the way in which.

The movie’s two-hour working time is fairly filled with motion beats, and they run the gamut from fundamental to fashionable to actually efficient and entertaining. Happily, the duds come early, and even higher? They’re usually engaging set-pieces regardless of being relative stinkers in regard to the precise motion. The first is an assassination set in opposition to a backdrop of colourful nightclub lights, fireworks, and milky glass flooring. Another sees Six battle his manner off a cargo aircraft that’s quickly full of our bodies, particles, and extra digital smoke, and issues solely worsen when a fall via the air turns into an unsightly stew of CG our bodies. The Russos appear nearly intent on distracting viewers from the motion itself which is too continuously shot overly tight with fast cuts.

It will get higher, although, as The Gray Man finally finds its manner by trusting extra within the performers than within the digital results and “cool” locales. A incredible set-piece in Prague begins with an assault on Alfre Woodard’s nook condo earlier than spilling into the streets for a pretty epic gun battle. Six is handcuffed to a bunch via a lot of it which works to create an attention-grabbing dynamic of circumstances and challenges, and whereas the scene finally devolves into the type of CG-fueled superhero antics the Russos are extra conversant in it stays a hell of a time. The movie’s finest beats come within the type of easier however superior hand-to-hand fight scenes involving Six, Lloyd, the Lone Wolf (Dhanush), and Agent Miranda (Ana de Armas). These are the type of sensible thrills that the filmmakers dropped at the perfect elements of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and they rock.

The script (by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely) does a poor job adapting Greaney’s story and characters — the title character specifically is unhappy, one-note tackle the ebook’s very wealthy creation — whereas nonetheless giving many of the forged a lot to play with. Gosling’s straight-faced however flippant murderer typically jars with the demise toll round him, however it’s by no means a dangerous factor when he will get to revisit a character who’s The Nice Guys (2016) adjoining. Yes, the Shane Black musk is robust on this one. Evans, in the meantime, is having an absolute blast because the baddie, one thing he’s clearly relishing in his post-MCU profession. From memorable one-liners (together with a enjoyable dig at “Ken Doll” Gosling) to some darkly humorous cruelty, he fairly actually steals each scene he’s in from the great guys. De Armas will get in a few enjoyable licks, however disgrace on the Russos for not letting Jessica Henwick reduce unfastened even as soon as.

This being a Russo movie it’s no shock that the visuals vary from the advantageous and enjoyable to some unlucky digital backdrops, however it’s hardly ever egregious in its ugliness. Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon even finds some engaging locales in Austria, France, the Czech Republic, and, positive, California. Drone use can’t rival what Michael Bay pulls off with this yr’s Ambulance, however whereas early photographs right here really feel like travelogue outtakes later digicam strikes add vitality and thrills in and out of the motion.

On the Netflix Original motion scale, The Gray Man lands excessive when in comparison with their different “blockbuster” releases. The cg stinks and the script has the anticipated silliness within the particulars — Six drives a tuk tuk a ridiculous seven-hundred miles at one level — however there’s character to spare and loads of thrilling motion beats to take pleasure in. So yeah, right here’s hoping Netflix finds a franchise in Greaney’s ongoing eleven-book sequence and brings us extra globe-hopping hitman shenanigans quickly.

Related Topics: Netflix, The Gray Man

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since earlier than you had been born, which is bizarre seeing as he is so rattling younger. He’s our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists ‘Broadcast News’ as his favourite movie of all time. Feel free to say hello for those who see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.


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