Wednesday evening was the premiere of “The Gray Man”, the russo brothers‘ ambitious action-thriller which, with a budget of $200 million, is Netflix’s most expensive film ever. On Thursday, the film’s review embargo was lifted, resulting in a generally disappointing response from critics.
movie stars Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans like Court Gentry and Lloyd Hansen. Gentry is on the run from Hansen after coming into possession of top secret CIA information, and Hansen is ruthless in his efforts to hunt Gentry. Ana de Armas also stars as Dani Miranda, alongside Regé-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard and Billy Bob Thornton.
Overall, most critics agree that “The Gray Man” is Netflix’s over-the-top attempt to capture the magic of blockbuster thrillers like the 007 movies. Gosling, Evans, de Armas and their co-stars show off their talents, but the majority of critics criticize its cliched script and frenetic pace. Despite some issues, a few reviewers admitted that even with its flaws, the film is still a fun watch, and the solid package is worth the viewer seeing what this big-budget blockbuster is really all about.
Read some highlights of what critics are saying below:
The narration is not very original. Take a little “Shooter”, a lot of “John Wick”, add a dash of Jason Bourne, shaken (but not stirred) in the license to kill formula, and you have the basic idea. What makes “The Gray Man” exciting – and let’s not beat around the bush: it’s the most exciting original action property Netflix has delivered since “Bright” – are the nuances the set brings to their characters and the little ways in which the Russos pick up where those other movies failed.
So begins a “blockbuster” so big you can actually feel the price of your Netflix subscription go up with each new scene, this apathetic simulacrum of a summer action flick bouncing from one lavish Asian or European locale to the next so which he searches in vain for the streamer’s first authentic popcorn franchise. The algorithmic results don’t quite reflect the Russo Brothers’ directing chops — their monumental spandex operas rarely needed and never showed the kind of brawny imagination needed to stage Michael Bay-esque fight sequences — but “The Gray Man” is even more damning. for Netflix itself, especially as it embodies the streamer’s penchant for producing mega-budget films that look like glorified deepfakes of classic multiplex fare.
For the most part, Netflix’s The “Gray Man” is a goddamn delight. It’s a throwback to the days when studios could safely rely on throwing a few A-listers on an action script and some big blasts, giving it a competent director and having a hit on hands. Often funnier and more evasive than some of the recent James Bond movies, it’s also based on a book character (although not much advertised as such). Ryan Gosling plays Mark Greaney’s freelance assassin and former CIA agent Court Gentry, a name the film largely avoids in favor of its code designation, Sierra Six. For Gosling fans whose favorite movie was Drive, this feels like a slightly bloated and simplified version of that character, with a whole lot more to say than he really doesn’t have more to say.
But the catbird-smiling Evans is the film’s main antagonist, and his pairing with Gosling is the pretty man Godzilla vs. Kong that most viewers have come to see. Although he’s played Captain America several times for Anthony and Joe Russo, most recently in ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ the actor seems positively giddy every time he steps into the role of, as some affectionately call him. , America’s A -hole. Here, everything about Lloyd, from his fascist little mustache to his schoolyard taunts, delights him; against the cool, ironic dude of Six, he’s the leering frat-boy jester, pretty much begging to be punched in that perfectly symmetrical face.
The majority of the cast is also shackled by the editing’s need to move from scene to scene without a lasting human moment. De Armas isn’t so much doe-eyed as she’s a deer in the headlights; she’s a more than capable actress, but she struggles here to cast a quizzical gaze from the abyss of history. Even poor Jessica Henwick, who plays Carmichael’s second-in-command, faces only occasional objections and observations about Hansen’s destructive methods, in order to give the film the appearance of a conscience or a dilemma – the CIA must murder people the “right” way, quietly and legally; what courage – until “The Gray Man” reminds us that Henwick can be useful in a potential sequel, granting him last-second utility that only serves to steal the tension from existing scenes.
Gosling says and does little entertainment value, which is more about the storyline that positions him as a generic action figure. Ditto Ana de Armas as Gosling’s reluctant daughter. Evans chews up the landscape, but most of his one-liners and zingers come off as predetermined memes and gif moments that exist in a vacuum. All three do little more than remind us of better movies where they played similar characters. Billy Bob Thornton and Alfre Woodard, playing two elderly agents trying to survive with dignity as the world passes before them, do their best to elevate their gear. Rising star Julia Butters holds her own even as she quickly becomes a full-time hostage/damsel. Perhaps by default, this film’s attempt to recapture the glory days of Hollywood action film can’t help but return to tropes and clichés of the past.
In their post-Marvel work, the Russos notably gave their superhero stars room to stretch. Last year’s ambitious ‘Cherry’ allowed Tom Holland to flex some dramatic muscle beyond donning a Spider-Man suit, and ‘The Gray Man’ allows Evans to deliciously explore his villainous side. . Yes, he’s the best of ‘Chris’, and giving him a full 180 of the virtuous Captain America proves it once again: Lloyd yells at underlings, goes blow for blow and snark for snark with Gosling, and absolutely owns a plethora of clever zingers like, “If you want to make an omelet, you have to kill people.” If you fancy an over-the-top action flick, “The Gray Man” is probably worth a stream for it alone, an evil villain playing an otherwise forgettable game of spy.
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