• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Movie review: The Gray Man (2022)

ByBrenden Martin

Aug 4, 2022

It is hard to miss hearing or seeing the words “The Gray Man” even in the weeks since its release on Netflix and the limited theatrical release it saw the week beforehand.

The $200 million film is Netflix’s most ambitious yet and with the names backing it to ensure its success. Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors behind the Captain America films, as well as Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), were tapped to direct this film. Joining them are their writing partners from their Marvel films, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, with Joe Russo co-writing alongside them.

Based on the 2009 book of the same name by Mark Greaney, who served as a co-writer of this adaptation, The Gray Man (2022) follows Courtland Gentry (Ryan Gosling). Given the codename Sierra Six, Gentry serves as a prisoner given a chance at freedom under one condition: he works for the CIA as a covert operative for the agency.

Retired CIA agent Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), who spearheaded the Sierra Program that takes incarcerated prisoners and turns them into disposable hitmen, hands Six this mission.

The film wastes no time showing Six’s strength and cunning. Six can think on his feet, adapting to less-than-ideal conditions in Bangkok, tasked with taking down an unnamed “bad guy.”

Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page) calls the shots on this mission. A CIA lead who immediately shows his displeasure for the Sierra Program, Carmichael deems it a team of unreliable criminals.

Six’s encounter with the hit target in Bangkok leads him to discover that Carmichael and higher-ups in the CIA have a different idea of who “the bad guys” are.

The evidence Six gets from the target makes him the most wanted man in the world, with the CIA tapping on some outside help to bring him down.

That outside help comes in the form of Lloyd Hansen (Chis Evans), a private contractor dawning a mustache up there with Miles Teller’s in Top Gun: Maverick (2022). He has zero regard for moral ethics and collateral damage when it comes to getting what he wants.

Evans, in a twist from his previous works with the Russo brothers, takes the role of the villain tasked with taking down Six, with whatever means deemed necessary.

Hansen chases Six all over Europe, a skirmish in Vienna, a dramatic encounter in Prague and a climatic finale where Six and fellow CIA member Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) must get creative to take down Hansen.

The movie tries to up Six’s urgency when Hansen places an eight-figure bounty on the rogue agent, but the execution leaves it hardly felt since the incriminating evidence Six obtained in Bangkok ends up as the real goal, with Six merely an obstacle.

The action scenes across the cities in Europe are what make the movie and are enhanced by the dynamic between Hansen and Six. The two’s whit, combined with Hansen’s ego and Six’s immediate disdain for him, make for hilarious dialogue mixed in with the split-second life-or-death actions each has to make while in combat.

Evans’ character bounces off well against any of the film’s characters, much like in his role as the villain in Knives Out (2019) which also featured Armas.

Gosling, on the other hand, doesn’t carry much emotion in certain situations that would have felt natural for one to do so. The interactions between him and Miranda feel awkward at first, but as the two learn about each other after having just met in the opening scene, the chemistry begins to flow.

That does feel by design, however, since Six went from a prisoner to an unnamed assassin, with his real name mentioned only once in the whole film. His robotic nature is especially present when he first meets Fitzroy’s niece, Claire (Julia Butters).

The Gray Man (2022) uses every minute of its just over two-hour runtime and keeps the viewer engaged with its solid action scenes and dire escape sequences moves.

The climax is one of the most awe-inspiring sequences produced in what can be viewed as a generic popcorn flick at first glance.

The movie does falter a bit after the climax by being unabashed about a potential future in the franchise based on a series of books. Characters’ backstories are told piecemeal throughout the film but hurled at the viewer at the very end to give them more depth for an already confirmed sequel with the Russo brothers and fellow writer Stephen McFeely returning.

With a spin-off film in the works with Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018) writers Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese, the comical side of this franchise, that The Gray Man (2022) only scratched the surface of, could be tapped into.

With how much has been invested into this adaptation and having the Russo brothers at the helm, Netflix needs this to be a hit to ensure further success. The Gray Man (2022) could be a great starting point for what could be a cinematic universe.

It has the quality of a big screen film in theaters, especially with its darker atmosphere in its most intense scenes, but it will certainly be known for its at-home appeal that stacks up against Netflix action movies of old.

Rating: 8/10