Review of “The Gray Man”: Guy vs. Guy

The frenzied hug “The Gray Man,” from directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, features more vibrant colors than the typical globe-trotting shoot-em-up about the distinctly lackluster CIA organization. The leader of the Russos, an agent known as the Six (Ryan Gosling), wears a sleek red suit with nail polish to match his first on-screen kill. Six works for his freedom, not his 401(k): He’s a convicted murderer who was snatched from prison by a government trial (played by Billy Bob Thornton) and placed in a bailout squad. secret death. He appears to be okay with the deal, despite a light, tired coat that Gosling wears like a rain poncho.

The Russos’ cinematic ethos, that’s more, leaves little room for Gosling to explore the complexities of Six. Six’s opening shot goes awry, shattering his job security. And as this extravagant adventure sprints through 10 countries, including Thailand and Azerbaijan, Six remains unflappably jaded. “I get it, you’re flippant,” Thornton’s character tells him. The same goes for everyone else in the movie, a funny, if indistinguishable blitz of joking colleagues, sneaky villains (including the main villain, a heavyweight played by Chris Evans) and a patient with hardened cancer (Alfre Woodard) who yells, “If you say anything even remotely sympathetic, I’ll shoot you.

The film’s writers – Joe Russo with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, frequent collaborators on the brothers’ films – have crafted a script that’s an onslaught of fun; a barrage of bullets and one-liners. The razzle-dazzle does a bit to invigorate what is basically a routine tale. (It’s no surprise that the real enemy is, as always, the CIA itself, in a story that contains no less than three all-too-convenient explosions.) Yet the frenzy is equally distracting on the edge of the self-sabotage. An early fight scene is punctuated by so many shots of built-in smoke and fireworks that it’s feared the Russos aren’t sure of Gosling’s ability to pull off his stunts. Fortunately, the film gains in confidence and inventiveness. In later footage, Six stubbornly saves herself from a plummeting plane, a trapdoor, and a set of handcuffs.

Gosling and Evans seem to have made an effort to build biceps even bigger than the barrels of their automatic rifles. Evans, whom the Russos have repeatedly directed as Captain America, seems thrilled to play a self-proclaimed sociopath who is so bloodthirsty that real sociopaths should sue for libel. “Ho-ho-ho!” he chuckled, firing a machine gun. The character is too outrageous for any credible threat, but Evans gives him a mustachioed enthusiasm.

The caffeinated cuts and pacing never allow the audience to fit in with the film’s large, expensive sets, preventing the action from getting truly thrilling. The best fight is one of the smallest: it centers on two supporting players (Ana de Armas and Dhanush, a Tamil movie star) choking on a single cable at the same time. Note the moment during an intense shootout on a streetcar where Six uses the reflection in a mirrored building to defeat a goon – it’s a nifty detail in a film that’s moving at full speed.

The gray man
Rated PG-13 for outbursts of violence and profanity. Duration: 2 hours 2 minutes. To watch on Netflix.

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