Netflix has aired its most expensive movie to date, and the reviews are in…
So, I finally got to see the latest Netflix smash-hit The Gray Man and there is plenty to talk about.
Okay, to start off, I need to say that I only made it to the end of the movie on my third attempt. So, it wasn’t the most pleasant journey for me. But that’s not because the movie was poor or boring; in fact, it’s nothing like that . I think what happened was that the movie lacked a thorough script for me. Plus, it was almost 40°C here. But mostly the script.
Anyway, before taking a nosedive into this review, let’s briefly introduce our guest of honor, The Gray Man.
The Gray Man is an action/thriller movie directed by Russo Brothers, who you may very-well know from Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. It aired on July 22 on Netflix, and it stands as their most expensive effort to this day, with an estimated budget of $200 million.
The movie centers around a top-class CIA agent – though, he’s more like an assassin – Six (Ryan Gosling) and how his life takes a U-turn after his latest mission. Now, he must play cat and mouse with a psychopathic former agent Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) and run from the CIA while getting help from Agent Miranda (Ana de Armas) and his handler Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton).
Frankly, it has a quite predictable storyline and, even if you didn’t see it, you could understand what happens in the end. But what’s interesting is that The Gray Man is a book-to-movie adaptation. It is based on Mark Greaney’s novel series of the same name. So, it makes me wonder if the screenplay is what the author had in mind, or if screenwriters were creative with it.
I haven’t read the books myself, so maybe the script of the movie got lost in translation, but it can be said that the books have definitely played a part there.
A MARVEL-SIZE PRODUCTION
What stood out to me the most about The Gray Man was its production value. As soon as the story picks up its pace, you realize that the scenes and the interaction of the characters are very similar to those in the Marvel movies.
Well, it’s not a surprise, considering the directors are Marvel veterans and The Gray Man definitely shows it. Personally, I love a good Marvel movie, so I was very satisfied with the overall production.
There was a spectacular scene where Six tries to escape from a plane while an army of men tries to annihilate him, and it is shot almost flawlessly. The camera angles let you take in the whole scene in at once and the special effects allow you to enjoy every single shot. There is a fluidity to the scene that allows you to see every detail of its millimetric planning.
It was like watching a fight scene from a Captain America film and most of the action scenes in The Gray Man gives you that similar vibe.
“NEVER TOSS SOMEONE A LOADED GUN”
For all the extra that The Gray Man gave us with its production, it lacked heavily in the screenplay and the dialogues. Unfortunately, the movies’ weak script makes it hard to enjoy the film besides the action scenes.
The character build-up is kind of confusing and the interaction between the characters are sometimes nearing dull. Even in scenes where the movie tries to create a sentimental moment, it falls flat because the stories behind the characters are rather superficial.
I get it; when you make an action film you want “action” to be at the centre of the movie. That’s why we go and see these kinds of movies, but the action scenes need to be complemented with a solid story and character development. So, when the audience gets into those scenes, they’ll have an actual reason to worry about the protagonist and cheer for the good guys.
In The Gray Man, I found it hard to be a sucker for our protagonist Six, even though it was portrayed by Ryan Gosling, because I didn’t really connect with him. The movie gives away his backstory and motive in a subtle way, but the suspense is not there. Actually, I bonded with the bad guy, Lloyd, more; but that may be because of my personal liking of Chris Evans as well.
But after all, there was one line that has stuck with me ever since I had heard it:
“Never toss someone a loaded gun!”
I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed the pun behind it. It was also preety funny.
AN UNEXPECTED THIRD PLAYER
Halfway through the movie, another assassin, or maybe an independent agent, comes into the game, Avik San, and I’m glad he did; it was the best thing that happened to this movie.
San, portrayed by Dhanush, finds Six and Miranda in a hospital to retrieve the flash drive that everyone is trying to get their hands on. I’m not sure how and why he’s appointed by Lloyd for the task, but the hospital fight scene is my personal favourite in the entire movie.
Not only do we get to see San’s physical excellence, but the choreography is quite spectacular. All three of them put on a good show, but I found myself watching San the entire time. Talk about a “scene stealer”!.
Now, although San’s story ends in a very abrupt way, we’re leaving that out, so it doesn’t take away from Dhanush’s excellent effort.
THE CRITICS ARE MIXED
Netflix has hyped The Gray Man for quite some time. The production started as early as 2020 and small nuggets were being leaked every now and then. Within the last month, Netflix has made sure that every subscriber was going to watch The Gray Man at their homes on July 22.
So, when the time finally came and Netflix let its most expensive production to date out, it has received mixed reviews from critics and the audience.
While the production and directing of the movie was praised, its cliché storyline and disappointing performances left viewers with less than satisfied thoughts. The viewers were happy that Netflix has finally put up a good effort and made a good action movie, but the lack of originality was still an issue.
THE GRAY MAN IS TURNING INTO A CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Netflix has announced that they’re turning The Gray Man into a cinematic universe with a sequence in planning for the near future. Russo Brothers will be sitting in the director’s chair once more and Ryan Gosling will return as our boy Six.
Honestly, it’s exciting to hear that the franchise is becoming a cinematic universe. It leaves room for improvement, and I wonder what kind of villains the story would introduce. It can also do the books justice as we’ll have a chance to see what Greaney’s books are really about.
One thing I would say, though, is that the franchise might do well to follow a different route than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I understand why the directors would want to go that way, but the main difference between Marvel heroes and Six is that we already know a lot about the heroes.
When the focus in a Marvel movie is the climactic battle between the good and the bad, or the fast-pacing action scenes, it feels okay because we’re already familiar with the narrative and the characters.
But with The Gray Man, we barely know about this character, Six, and it would be more interesting to see how Six evolves and what challenges await him in the future.
In short, The Gray Man remains as an honorable effort by Netflix and, although it has some major flaws, it’s good to see that Netflix is taking risks and cares about producing more quality content.