The Gray Man: Russo Bros’ Smart, Spectacular Action Flick

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: When the CIA’s most skilled operative—whose true identity is known to none—accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.

Review: Everybody loves a good action movie and just like every other genre, this one has evolved a lot over the decades. Viewers want more than just big explosions and cool one-liners, they want brains with their brawn, and that’s just what you get from The Gray Man.

Catch a train and you’re sitting on top of the world. Isn’t that how the song goes?

My favourite MCU movie so far is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In my humble opinion, it’s as close to perfect as an action movie can get. So when I saw the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe), the same guys who gave me that gem were the ones behind The Gray Man, I knew I was about to see something spectacular. And spectacular is exactly what this movie delivers.

Based on the novel of the same name by Mark Greaney but with the expected changes for the film adaptation, a convict is offered the deal of a lifetime by a man named Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton). He’ll get him out if the man agrees to be trained in the art of assassination. Years later the man is one of the best in the business, simply known as Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling) or Six to his friends. He teams up with another agent called Dani (Ana de Armas) to take out a target. But in doing so he learns the people he’s working with are on the wrong side of the law. He is then forced to go on the run as the world’s best killers are sent to take him out led by the maniacal and mustachioed Lloyd (Captain America Chris Evans).

That is the face of a man who truly enjoys his work

Not only is this movie full to the brim with talented beautiful people, they each get a chance to show what they can do. Ryan Gosling is one of those actors you can put in any role and he slips into it effortlessly (get this man into a pair of superhero tights already!). His portrayal of Six feels like an extension of his role as Driver in Drive but with a lot more gun and knife skills and enough charm to give James Bond a run for his money. Quiet and capable, the stoic but caring Six is balanced out by Chris Evans chewing the scenery as Lloyd Hansen, a sociopath who gleefully tortures people while dressed like he’s going to play a round of golf later. Evans is obviously having a blast playing against type here. To date I think his only other villainous turn was in Knives Out but where that reveal came as a surprise to viewers (maybe I should’ve said SPOILER ALERT). Here he hits the ground running and never lets up in the best ways possible.

For those like myself who were disappointed by the underutilised Ana de Armas in No Time to Die, she proves she’s no shrinking violet here and one can only hope we get to see her in more action-heavy roles in the future. Sadly Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist, Matrix: Resurrections) as Agent Suzanne Brewer doesn’t get to show off her impressive skills here as she doesn’t play a field agent like Six and Dani. And another Netflix star Rege-Jean Page doesn’t get much screen time either which may disappoint his fans. He’s not the charming rogue he played in Bridgerton and you’ll want to slap his smug face which, considering the character, means he’s doing something right.

I feel you Ana. That guy’s outfit is making my eyes burn too

The action is exactly what you would expect from the brothers that brought us some of the biggest action set pieces of modern day cinema and are in a very big way responsible for the success of the MCU. Most action movies have two or three large set pieces; The Gray Man, on the other hand starts action heavy and never truly lets up. Even when things do slow down it’s to progress the story in an organic way that never feels stagnated and I’m all for it.

With locations taking place all across the world (and people think Netflix is broke!) larger than life stars (Alfre Woodard, Wagner Moura, Callan Mulvey and so many others) a tight pace that never lets up and a story that feels like it would make for a great series going forward, The Gray Man definitely stands as one of the best the genre has to offer.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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