MOVIES: The Gray Man – Review 4 stars

Made on a staggering budget of $200 million, the film is packed with absurd stunts that come one after the other.

I absolutely loved it! It is a non stop thrill ride with some really great action sequences and a super stellar cast! 

The Gray Man feels like another multi-million misfire from the Russo Brothers, who have proven that no amount of money that they are given can make a project interesting. This feels like The Bourne Identity or Mission Impossible but stripped of any sense of thrills, fun or excitement, a laborious , torturous misstep that – perhaps most surprising of all, looks incredibly cheap considering its $200 million budget afforded to it. To put it into context – that’s more than Mission Impossible Fallout, at $178m – and Top Gun: Maverick – at $170m; yet I’ve seen classic Doctor Who episodes with better usage of effects. It’s an age old case of Netflix not realising how money works – maybe giving that much budget to the directors of Cherry was a mistake in hindsight, but beyond that – what’s surprising is just how much of this is so uninspiring it’s hard to care by the end.

Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling play opposite ends of a fight when a hired assassin goes rogue against his operators. It feels like a paint-by-algorithm cast for a paint-by-algorithm script, Evans and Gosling are in autopilot and Evans feels like he’s in a student film half the time; intent on delivering meme-worthy forms of dialogue that feel stiff, forced and awkward. Not even the promise of Ana de Armas, Regé-Jean Page or Jessica Henwick can add anything – all feel wasted and given little to do. If anything, the cast is too much – these characters all feel cookie-cutter one-dimensional.

To those who say you’d expect that in an action movie, look at the films that The Gray Man rips off – you care about Bourne, you even Bond – you even care about Ethan Hunt – but for Six, none of that mercy is afforded. He feels about as dull as the film itself – which feels far more interested in popping up in-jokes about Gosling’s casting in the next Barbie movie to take seriously.

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The plot is entirely predictable and by the numbers, there’s no sense of creativity afforded to the action sequences which feel completely derivative. For an action movie, the action isn’t even well directed – the fight sequences are poorly lit and heavily smoke-dominated; and quickly cut together with little nuance that shines through in its script.

The combat sequences are squarely ripped from action movies – every sequence feels reminiscent of the films that I’ve already mentioned here – and there’s just no life of its own by the time everything has been stripped dry.

Even the needle drops feel forced and repetitive – with the film too lazy to come up with its own score. The script is stripped of any nuance or subtlety – and you’re left groaning at hammy references to Greek mythology as the film aimlessly tries to find a sense of self-importance.

Netflix have been trying to desperately find a franchise for what feels like an age; to the point where they’re even talking about launching this movie as a franchise – but it feels dead on arrival. None of these characters, or even these actors – have the star power or calibre to carry a franchise this dull.

Never has a franchise felt more dead on arrival since The Mummy‘s supposed would-be induction of Dark Universe – and never has its directors; who lamented the cinema as being supposedly “an elitist notion” – been as out of touch; in fact – I’d go so far to say as they’re the elitist ones – encouraging everyone to access a paid for subscription service content with putting out drivel like this.

Cinemas have done a better job at creating movies for everyone regardless of their class and status than Netflix and the Russo Brothers, who – as people who have made the second highest grossing movie in the world, should know better – and The Gray Man isn’t going to be the film that has people forsaking the big screen for home entertainment.

When you look at films like Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis currently soaring on the big screen – now, more than ever – is a great time to finally get around to cancelling that Netflix subscription.

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Cliff Morton


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