Netflix’s The Gray Man is a fun action ride steered by its stellar cast. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame fame, the film is a picturesque chase of Central Intelligence Agency assassin, Sierra Six, played by Ryan Gosling. Coming from the duo known to deliver originals, if nothing else, the script feels too familiar to create an element of surprise.
It is definitely a better attempt than its predecessors Red Notice and 6 Underground. However, it gives us nothing new, except to reiterate the talent of its case.
This much-anticipated film is the streaming platform’s most expensive project to date. Netflix has spent a whopping $200 million on the movie. Based on Mark Greaney’s novel of the same name, The Gray Man also stars Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, and India’s very own Dhanush.
Gosling is the ‘gray man’ fighting off ‘bad guys’ to survive, after having been a loyal CIA asset for years. He is a criminal sent to jail, and his only ticket to freedom is loyalty to the CIA and killing without asking questions—until an assassination in Bangkok does not go as planned.
The plot will not feel new—it is akin to a generic James Bond film, or for that matter, any good old action thriller you may have watched—involving an alleged rogue agent trying to clear his name and find the truth, a kidnapped child, lover, or a benevolent mentor-figure who believes in them.
CIA handler Donald Fitzroy, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is the father figure to Six and his beloved 13-year-old niece. They are the hostages he kills all the villains for.
There’s also the sidekick Dani, played to perfection by Ana De Armas. Armas is as much of a delight in the action scenes as she was in Cary Fukunaga’s No Time to Die, and almost reprises the same role here.
Chris Evans sheds his goody-two-shoes image of Captain America and plays a sociopath. It is almost a dissonance to watch him play such a despicable character, but Evans aces it. His Lloyd Hansen has no redemptive qualities and you will love to hate him. From a loathsome moustache to striped, fitted polo-necks and ankle-length pants, Hansen is despicable to the core.
In the 10 minutes of screentime given to him, Dhanush is an absolute delight. It is enthralling to see him fight both Gosling and Armas’ characters in an action sequence. Addressed as ‘my Tamil friend’ by Evans’ Hansen, he does whatever he can in his special appearance.
Rege, who has probably charmed his way into the hearts of all of the world’s women, plays the manipulative, unscrupulous Carmichael who is hell-bent on saving his ‘reputation’. Frankly, Rege’s charm is restricted to Bridgerton as he does not get to do much in The Gray Man.
Acing the action
The action scenes are outstanding, to say the least. It also helps that they are spaced out—Bangkok to Baku, Vienna, Croatia, Turkey, Prague to France’s Chateau de Chantilly. One action sequence involves Gosling in a handcuff, tied to a park seat at Prague square, being hunted for a bounty offered by Hansen. The amount of ammunition and number of assassins unleashed throughout the sequence are mind-boggling.
Another noteworthy scene is the mid-air fight between Gosling and a few men tasked with killing him ‘painlessly’. From parachutes to textbook mid-air action, this sequence had all the markings of an ‘ideal’ action scene.
One would imagine that most of the film’s budget, after paying the actors’ fee, was spent on these action sequences—and truth be told, they pay off. If you want to spend 126 minutes this weekend on an action film, The Gray Man might just be your best bet.
(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)