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Review: 'The Gray Man' (2022) Dirs. Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Regé-Jean Page, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Callan Mulvey, Alfre Woodard and Billy Bob Thornton

 

The Russo brothers focus on giving another of their Avengers an action-packed thrill ride, this time it's former Captain America himself in a thriller based on the novel by Mark Greaney...


Former inmate Courtland "Court" Gentry (Gosling) is a man with no ties and no collateral. He is recruited by a CIA Black Ops unit overseen by Donald Fitzroy (Thornton) to carry out the dangerous jobs to protect national security. Court is renamed Sierra Six.


One his latest mission, Six is given information that casts doubt over the Black Ops unit he has been recruited for, and if he truly is fighting for the right people. To get their top secrets back, CIA official Denny Carmichael (Page) brings in former hitman Lloyd Hansen (Evans).


Aided by CIA operative Dani Miranda (de Armas), Six must evade Hansen and his hit-squad, find those he can trust in the elusive Black Ops unit and bring down the corrupt officials who are playing a very dangerous and volatile game with the free-world at stake...

Netflix continue to throw good money out for good films. The Russo brothers continue to flex their action pecs with this adaptation of the 2009 novel by Mark Greaney from his series, telling the story of a Government assassin hunted down by others who want him silenced after he uncovers a dangerous, corrupt conspiracy. It's the perfect MacGuffin for a globe-trotting, action-adventure that takes so many familiar elements from the genre, that's it's a very comfortable watch without trying to do anything different and perfect popcorn entertainment.


Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans take up our leads as Government assassin and former Government assassin gone rogue. Two very different people, but cut from the same cloth with equal amounts of charming style and attitude. Gosling is on fine form here as Six, the expendable Gray Man fighting an honest fight and thrown into a cat-and-mouse hunt Chris Evans's Hansen. Six has found secrets that could destroy an entire Governments establishment, and Hansen has no rules in getting jobs done, so he and his team are tasked to silence Six and retrieve the secret intel before it's exposed. As said, standard action thriller stuff but Gosling and Evans are two well loved stars and given the chance to have fun together on screen with plenty of wry humour, some heart and macho bullshit tough talk and fighting that would make Arnie happy.


Ana de Armas also rides her former Bond Girl status here to punch, kick and shoot her way through the bad guys with ease but never gets to do much else. She's in good company with co-stars such as Jessica Henwick, Billy Bob Thornton and Regé-Jean Page all ticking their respective boxes as are they good / are they bad Government types.

The Russo's sure have their stylish kinks when it comes to basic action, throwing in as many fireworks, flares, explosions, fires or flying debris as possible to make the brutal hand-to-hand combat look as dramatic and cinematic as possible.

This has everything you want from an action flick helmed by those responsible for many of the original Avenger's highest grossing MCU antics. It's James Bond meets Mission: Impossible, topped with the gun-play and action stakes of your favourite Schwarzenegger / Stallone offerings. It's a globe-trotting thriller pitting Government assassins against former Government assassins, with machine-gun toting mercenaries and trigger happy cops in for the ride.


Fights and shoot-outs take place on rooftops, in busy public streets, dangerous neon lit laboratories, on top of (and inside) speeding locomotives and all as the world seems to explode and crumble around them. It's an action film that knows what it wants to deliver, how it wants to deliver and what target audience to aim for. The Russo brothers know how to mix practical and CG stunts for maximum effect, using their stars to the fullest potential to sell their roles and let audiences feel immersed in the raging battle, from swinging drone camera shots above the crowds to fast edits and panoramic shots of our global locations.


Yet there are a few layers beneath the mindless action to try add some flesh to the narrative bones. The old adage of past demons dictating your future path, and fighting to save ones you care for are here to help differentiate the good guys from the bad with their conflicting morals. It's familiar stuff, but it blends in well with what's on offer and works well to connect the dots without being too convenient.

This is a bombastic cinematic outing that millions will experience on the small screen, which is a shame as the production is worthy of the big screen. It's large in scale, large in production value and large (loud?) in noise. Then again, when the nametag of Russo is attached to a film, it's impossible to think it will be anything different, especially with such a solid cast leading it.


And franchise potential? There could be a couple more adaptations from Greaney's novels in the works if they remain of this calibre.

'The Gray Man' is a flashy and entertaining action thriller that is large in scale and great fun. "An extra $10m to the one who puts a bullet in this Ken doll's brain," Evans snarls about Gosling. It's clear the team were having fun making this one.





'The Gray Man' is a co-production between AGBO and Roth/Kirschenbaum Films


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