A dependable cast (which includes Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, and Julia Butters) is let down by weak storytelling and sloppy filmmaking in Netflix’s summer blockbuster The Gray Man.
Influenced by the streamer’s mediocre action hit The Old Guard and set in a far less goofy register than last year’s Red Notice, The Gray Man features Gosling as a secret CIA recruit (codename: Sierra Six) who is hired as an assassin. The new position assures a prison sentence, which he’s serving, will be scrubbed from his past, and Six – over the course of several years – discretely makes a name for himself as one of the CIA’s top performers in their Sierra program. A new job, however, reveals that Six may not be as protected as he thought he was, and a manhunt targeted on Six – co-helmed by a persistently heartless mercenary (Evans) – make him the experienced killer into a desperate fugitive.
The film was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who are staples in the Marvel filmmaking industry. As someone unfamiliar with recent Marvel fare, I can only compare their recent endeavour with their genre-hopping departure in Cherry. The Gray Man, while more conventional than Cherry, uses the same self-serious attitude towards its plot, which isn’t a good combination with the movie’s implausible logic, drastically undercooked characters, and strenuously macho attitudes; resulting in a pulpy and overlong action yarn.
But, of course, some implausibility can be accepted if the action sequences are entertaining and exciting. Unfortunately, the Russos have settled for abrupt edits and shaky cinematography (including nauseating drone footage) that position the viewer too close to the choreography, as well as clutter the frame with special effects that are either vigorously overlapping each other or fly by too fast to appreciate them.
The Gray Man didn’t give me a headache, though that might’ve changed if I caught the film during its theatrical engagement. But, I was bored and annoyed otherwise.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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