The Gray Man Movie Review

“The Gray Man” is a high-budget Netflix production directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, known for their work on “Avengers: Endgame.” Starring Ryan Gosling as the protagonist, the film aims to kickstart a new mega-franchise. 

While the film offers a promising premise and a star-studded cast, it ultimately falls short of delivering a memorable experience. With a lack of creative oversight, “The Gray Man” fails to define itself and leaves little lasting impression on its viewers.

A Lacking Protagonist and Fast-paced Plot

Gosling portrays Sierra Six, a spy recruited from prison by handler Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton). The film quickly throws us into a mission gone awry, leaving Six on the run after being ordered to eliminate a fellow agent. 

Unfortunately, Gosling’s character lacks depth and fails to establish a compelling personality. The film would have benefited from a more defined protagonist, like Ethan Hunt from the “Mission: Impossible” series, rather than relying on tired clichés.

Supporting Cast: Missed Opportunities

As the plot progresses, Six is pursued by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former CIA operative, now working with fewer restrictions in the private sector. Hansen will stop at nothing to capture Six, even resorting to kidnapping Fitzroy’s daughter, Claire (Julia Butters). 

Although the cast is filled with talented actors, their characters suffer from underdevelopment, with Evans’ antagonist lacking the necessary intrigue and menace. Furthermore, Ana de Armas’ Dani Miranda, another spy who joins Six, is given little character definition, leaving the audience with a sense of missed potential.

Lackluster Execution and Dim Lighting

Despite a few impressive action sequences, such as a chaotic one in a town square, “The Gray Man” suffers from lackluster execution. The majority of the film is shot in low light, which hampers the captivating presence of the talented cast, including Gosling, Evans, and de Armas. 

The decision to use the dim lighting palette from “Ozark” throughout the movie dampens the visual impact and hinders the overall enjoyment. A franchise with ambitions like “The Gray Man” should embrace an exhilarating and over-the-top style, but the film falls short, lacking the necessary excitement and fun.

Underdeveloped Antagonist and Lack of Risk-taking

One of the film’s major setbacks is the underdeveloped nature of the antagonist, Hansen. Despite the attempt to establish him as a terrifying genius, the script fails to provide substantial evidence to support this claim. 

Evans’ character feels more like a crazy spy than a genuine threat, undermining the potential conflict between the traditional spy and the modern brute force. “The Gray Man” plays it safe, failing to take risks and explore new territory within the spy genre.

A Lack of Originality and Algorithm-driven Decisions

“The Gray Man” falls victim to the trend of original streaming content that seems hesitant to take real risks. The film’s lack of originality and formulaic approach is evident, making it feel like it was created solely to fit an algorithm rather than to deliver a unique and engaging experience. 

The film misses the opportunity to become the next “John Wick,” “Mission: Impossible,” or “Fast Five” — thrilling franchises that took bold creative choices. The industry needs to break free from algorithm-driven decisions and invest in truly innovative storytelling.

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“The Gray Man” fails to capitalize on its potential as a thrilling spy franchise. Despite the star power of Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas, the film suffers from a lack of character development, dim lighting, and a formulaic plot. It lacks the defining features that would make it a memorable addition to the spy genre. 

As Netflix continues to invest substantial budgets in its productions, it’s crucial to ensure that creative oversight is maintained, allowing for originality, risk-taking, and the emergence of genuinely captivating franchises.

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