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'The Gray Man' movie review: All volatile crash and burn

Updated on: 22 July,2022 01:35 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas | mailbag@mid-day.com

The moniker ‘Gray Man’ ostensibly refers to the ability of a Spy to move through the world without being noticed. That may be a commendable quality in a Spy but not so in a movie which unfortunately mirrors that ‘gray area’ of being imminently forgettable - all volatile crash and burn with a lot of muddling and chaos in between

'The Gray Man' movie review: All volatile crash and burn

The Gray Man still


Film: The Gray Man
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 128 mins


Mark Greaney’s debut novel The Gray Man gets a feature film representation in this Netflix’ Russo Brothers’ directed venture. The Russo brothers attempt to go big budget again with a spy-versus-spy thriller but it fails to live up to the expectations brought on by their earlier oeuvre which include Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The moniker ‘Gray Man’ ostensibly refers to the ability of a Spy to move through the world without being noticed. That may be a commendable quality in a Spy but not so in a movie which unfortunately mirrors that ‘gray area’ of being imminently forgettable - all volatile crash and burn with a lot of muddling and chaos in between. 



The story here is about CIA's most skilled mercenary Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling), recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) post a stint in prison, accidentally uncovering dark agency secrets and subsequently becoming a primary target hunted around the world by psychopathic former colleague Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) and international assassins.


Also Read: Joe Russo: 'The Gray Man' was an exhausting movie to make

As presented in the film, Court Gentry is by no means unmemorable. He wears flashy clothes, has a charismatic presence and creates a city shutting furore wherever he goes. Certainly by no means is he the spy that Greaney featured in his novel. But not only that, his first kill in the film is a target two floors up who he attempts to shoot down through ceilings with a rifle that doesn’t look all that capable of facilitating such an incredible shot at a heavily populated party in Bangkok with a lot of fireworks going off at the same time. Did anyone say inconspicuous? 

Then comes the big reveal. The victim on his dying breath, reveals his former Sierra credentials and hands over a flash drive with evidence proving that the Agency’s group chief Denny Carmichael (Bridgerton‘s Regé-Jean Page) is killing people around the world for his own shadowy purposes. So now Gentry becomes the hunted and needs to be one up on all the assassins gunning for him. There’s yet another sequence in which Gentry gets stuck on a cargo plane that is literally crumbling from the aftermath of a shoot-out and he is busy as ever trying to fend off killers right in the middle of it. When Fitzroy’s niece (Julia Bitters) is at risk of being kidnapped,  Gentry goes gallant and rescues her. Assassin Avik San  (Dhanush, the Indian star looking fairly formidable) becomes party to a deadly hand-to-hand fight face-off with Gentry towards the finale. Its fun to watch but it feels rather out of place in a film so choc-o-block with CGI and FX. The screenplay (credited to Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) takes several short cuts involving far-fetched logic leaps and unbelievable twists. The narrative construction just doesn’t facilitate believability here.

Also Read: Joe Russo: 'The Gray Man' was an exhausting movie to make

Cat and mouse chases, a plethora of explosions, lots of bloodshed accompanying slick kills and stunt jumping out of incendiary situations populate the middle narrative. There’s globe-trotting action, interesting locations and crazy set pieces to go with it. But thinly written characters and facile motivations ruin the enjoyment. Even though its racy and eventful, implausibility stares you in the face. I guess the Russo Brothers haven’t yet come down to earth from their super-hero perch.

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