I’m starting this review with a bit of trivia. This film had a $200 million budget, making it the most expensive Netflix original movie ever made.
Well, it actually shares that title with “Red Notice” from the same year, but who’s counting. Anyway, I promise you that you’ll see why as you watch. Its action goes through the roof and not one penny is wasted when considering the impact this thrill ride will have on its audience.
Some movies may go too far to entertain. The action often overwhelms for no reason but what they’ve done here is given you the ariel stunts and chase scenes as well as a great story. There’s an actual reason that makes sense for everything to be exploding around the main characters. There’s an abundance of films out there that have a similar theme. Someone will find a way to compare “The Gray Man” to others in the genre and ask why they should see this. I’ll give you two reasons: Anthony and Joe Russo. It seems working in the Marvel Universe has taught them to ‘go big or go home.’ But not in the Michael Bay sense. They’re doing it right by leaving their audience begging for more.
The movie starts by revealing to us who young Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six (Gosling), is. Six is how he’s now referred. He’s recruited straight out of prison by the CIA handler Donald Fitzroy played by a very thin Billy Bob Thornton. He commutes Gentry’s sentence so he, too, can work as a CIA operative and freelance assassin.
Eighteen years later, we’re in Bangkok with a working Six. His job is to kill a man, no questions asked. An operative at Langley, played by Regé-Jean Page, tells him he has the green light to the degree that he can also shoot anyone who gets in the way of his not accomplishing the assigned task. A child gets in the way of his shot. Being a man of some morals, Six can’t go through with the job. Lloyd (Evans), also with the agency, isn’t happy with Six making his own calls in the field.
Six does finally reach the target and goes in for the kill. Before the man dies, he passes on some truths about the agency Six is working for. The people there are not as clean as they want you to believe. He also gives Six a flash drive and lets him know that being in possession of the drive, as he was, will make Six the agency’s primary target. Not completely understanding why, Six is now on the run.
The title comes from the fact that a gray man is taught to exist in the shadows. To kill the bad guys quickly and to get out without being seen. Six is very good at what he does. With his horrible 1970s “Trash Stash” and white pants, Lloyd gets together a team of the most qualified killers and goes on a Six hunt. He, too, is adept at his job. Six is intelligent and eminently aware of the danger he’s in. He properly prepares.
From this moment on, outside of a few scenes, the action never stops. What I most appreciated about the film was the cinematography. The camera follows seemingly impossible fight and chase scenes with ease. It’s as if the director of photography, Stephen F. Windon, who filmed many of the “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, was moving and breathing along with the players. The performance is exquisite and the editing is flawless.
The tension between Six and Lloyd is thick. The men despise one another. When they meet, the script lightens some and we get playful banter, but they couldn’t be more serious. Interesting that these are the more comical and campy moments.
The star and hero of the Russo’s Avenger movies kicks people when they’re down and shows he has a weakness. He’s jealous of Six, at one point referring to him as a Ken doll. Is the reason Lloyd wants him dealt with mainly because he thinks Six is better looking… and more kind? He’s everything Lloyd wants to be but better.
How this ends screams sequel. I’m in and I think you will be, too.
The Gray Man
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written by: Joe Shrapnel
Rated: PG-13 (Strong Language|Strong Violence)
Run Time: 2h 2min
Genres: Action, Thriller
Produced by: Chris Castaldi, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Mike Larocca, Palak Patel, Joe Roth, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Release Date (Theaters): Jul 15, 2022 *Limited
Release Date (Streaming): Jul 22, 2022