The Gray Man Review: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Dhanush's movie bites off more than it can chew

The Gray Man, Russo Brothers' overtly ambitious action flick, is bolstered by a trusted ensemble and magnificent action set pieces but flickers due to a blatant lack of interest in the script and character development. Read Pinkvilla's review below.

Updated on Jul 25, 2022 12:04 PM IST  |  96.5K
The Gray Man Review
Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans star as Sierra Six and Lloyd Hansen in The Gray Man.

The Gray Man

The Gray Man Cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Regé-Jean Page, Dhanush

The Gray Man Directors: Russo Brothers

Streaming Platform: Netflix

The Gray Man Stars: 3/5

One extravagant action set piece in one country. Another unbelievable action set piece in another country. One more thrilling action set piece... you know the drill! That's The Gray Man for you, in a nutshell! Touted as Netflix's most expensive movie made, so far, the Russo Brothers try to spin their blockbuster magic yet again with Mark Greaney's addictive book series as its source material and a dream ensemble, headlined by Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, but does the hype pay off? Let's find out!

In The Gray Man, Ryan Gosling plays a straight-faced, mostly invisible yet unkillable mercenary named Sierra Six aka "The Gray Man", recruited by the CIA, who in a mission gets his hands on dark agency secrets that could incriminate some big guns. To capture and kill Sierra Six, Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page, also a hot favourite to play James Bond!) and Suzanne Brewer (Jessica Henwick) enlist the assistance of their former CIA agent colleague and psychotic madman Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to use his Hitler-esque methods. Even at the expense of blowing up anything and everything, and let's not forget, humans as collateral damage, even. However, don't worry, because Six has got his own backup in efficient CIA agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), who has to prove her innocence and retired CIA official Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), who was the one to recruit Six into the Sierra program. What follows is a world tour (India is, unfortunately, on the list!) adventure where 'Planes, Trains And Automobiles' explode and feel very much like Rohit Shetty's wildest dreams coming true.

When it comes to the trusted cast in The Gray Man, Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans' performances in The Gray Man, though entertaining, are something we've seen before. Imagine Drive and Knives Down, dialled from 100 to Russos! Nevertheless, Ryan's knack for playing sombre characters with charisma and Chris' efficiency when it comes to playing overzealous douchebags (with his viral trash stache and white pants) adds authenticity to the action flick. Similarly, Ana de Armas plays a bada*s character reminiscent of her limited yet memorable scene-stealing act in No Time To Die, with some impressive fight moves. With almost every character given their time to shine in the action sequences, Regé-Jean Page is confined to playing a caricaturish villain behind a desk and it's Jessica Henwick, instead, who gives a more impactful performance.

While Alfre Woodard as Six's retired CIA ally Margaret Cahill and Billy Bob Thornton are excellent as per expected of the veterans, Dhanush as Avik Sen aka the Lone Wolf, with his impressive Hollywood debut and epic entrance, adds another ferociously intense performance to his neverending list of ferociously intense performances. Though, it would have been nice if he had more than dialogues in the entire movie. After impressing us with her short yet meaningful sequence with Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Julia Butters as Donald Fitzroy's niece Claire Fitzroy gets to play around with her acting range but falls into the typical spy thriller trope of being an emotional motif to humanise our otherwise monotone lead character.

What The Gray Man gets terribly wrong is its instant franchise treatment. With so many intriguing characters added into a clustered loop, you're never really given enough time to invest in any of them or their half-baked backstories. Instead, they're defined by their quirky one-liners! Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's script is more focused on the carefully curated, bombastic action set pieces that it forgets to nourish the storyline.

Speaking of the action sequences, which are 9 in total, trudge between spectacular and mind-numbing. One of the highlights would be the knife battle between Ryan, Ana and Dhanush, which lets the actors breathe and feel the effects of the treacherous fight. On the other hand, The fight scenes inside the plane and on top of a moving train have déjà vu moments from past spy thrillers and are so drastically quick, that you're not sure where what begins and what ends. However, there are the simpler moments, like when Six is able to shoot someone by tracking his movements through a window pane, albeit while on top of a train, that embodies why the mercenary is so damn hard to kill, even with legions of deadly killers on his six, and a weary body ragged to the bone! Another bone of contention is the blaring sound mixing, which is not for the faintest of hearts while the kaleidoscope of colours through and through may distract many. Stephen F. Windon's ambitious cinematography catering to the Russos' over-the-top expectations is never in tandem with Jeff Groth and Pietro Scalia's shoddy editing, which is a shame for a movie like The Gray Man, which relies on technical prowess.

ALSO READ: The Gray Man: Russo Brothers QUIP they 'manifested' Ryan Gosling playing Ken in Barbie

In all fairness, I can give The Gray Man the benefit of doubt because the main reason why you're watching this film is for an action-packed blockbuster time and wouldn't mind a half-baked script. However, those expecting a cinematic showdown masterpiece between Ryan Gosling vs. Chris Evans are sure to be left utterly disappointed because most of their sequences are relegated to tiresome phone conversations. It's the few times the duo tumble together that are the scene-stealing portions of the movie.

In conclusion, The Gray Man definitely bites off more than it can chew and feels like "just another Thursday." So much so, that we'd give the impending sequels, prequels and spin-offs a hard pass!

Credits: Pinkvilla,Netflix

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