‘The Gray Man’: All hype and no substance
The Russo Brothers have once again taken the big screen by storm with "The Gray Man", an espionage thriller with a star-studded cast. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Greaney, and so far, this movie has been one of the biggest that Netflix has churned out in its history.
In the film, Ryan Gosling plays the role of the eponymous character, otherwise known as Sierra Six. The movie starts with the head of the CIA, Fitzroy, paying a visit to Six in prison, with the offer to train him as a CIA assassin in exchange for commuting his sentence.
18 years later, Fitzroy has retired and Six is seen to carry out a covert mission under the lead of Denny Carmichael, who is played by Bridgerton's heartthrob Regé-Jean Page. During the mission, Six encounters Sierra Four who hands him a thumb drive containing evidence on the CIA's dirtiest secrets.
Carmichael immediately hires a freelance assassin—who has no connections to the CIA—to retrieve the thumb drive. Lloyd Hansen, the agent in question, is played by Chris Evans. Six and Fitzroy reunite to get to the bottom of the conspiracy but they're compromised as Lloyd kidnaps Fitzroy's niece in order to make Fitzroy betray Six.
The movie centres around the story of egotistical men, who are bound by either their saviour complex or by their greed. A character that stands out, however, is the one played by Ana de Armas. The actress plays the role of a CIA agent who is forced to go rogue, in order to clear her name, and ends up becoming Six's dame in shining armour. Unfortunately, she herself is not given the chance to shine on screen. Rather, her character finds itself lingering in the background almost like a shadow.
Riffing off franchises such as James Bond and Mission Impossible, "The Gray Man" is rife with elaborate action scenes, occasional quips, fascinating backdrops and dizzying camera shots.
However, it falls short to create an appealing narrative using all of these elements. The action sequences and even the final showdown between Evans and Gosling seem foolishly unauthentic. The one scene where Indian actor Dhanush and Gosling face off is probably the only highlight of the movie in my opinion.
Any true action fan can predict the plotline of "The Gray Man", and even the ensemble's full-bodied commitment could not compensate for the liminal storytelling. At times, it feels as though the jokes in the film were written by a team of teenagers.
The good guys always seem to have a sixth sense that predicts any danger, and on multiple occasions they have impeccable timing when trying to escape life-threatening situations. As the characters are continuously saved every time, whether due to sheer luck or absurd coincidences, you start to lose any investment you might have made in them.
Throughout the movie, we only see the characters inciting violence on international levels which ends up hurting thousands of innocent bystanders. By the end of the movie, there is no do we see a cycle of revenge coming to an end.
"The Gray Man" is a reference to the transitional morality of Six, but the moral dimensions of the film are glossed over in a way that makes it entirely moot. It is incredibly disappointing that Russo Brothers, who are responsible for four highly successful Marvel movies, created a movie that is neither entertaining nor charismatic.