Spoiler-Free Review: THE GRAY MAN

I sat down last night to watch the latest from Netflix – The Gray Man. I didn’t know much about it, but the cast seemed good and it was from Joe and Anthony Russo, so I decided to give it a go.

Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, Dhanush, Alfre Woodward, and Rege-Jean Page all star. It was directed by the Russos from a script by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely. The plot is straightforward:

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.

Not the most original of stories, since it reminded me a little of John Wick 2 or 3, the one where everyone is after him. Don’t let that put you foo. Overall this was a great action flick.

Six (Gosling) was in jail but was offered the chance to get out and become a trained killer for the CIA. Many years later, in the present day, that’s just what he is doing. He’s in Bangkok with his partner Dani (De Armas) to kill a bad guy. At least, that’s what he’s been told.

He aborts the mission to avoid some kid that is in the way. His superiors don’t like this as they don’t care about collateral damage, even kids. He ends up in a brutal fight with the “bad guy”, only to find out that the bad guy is actually closer to home than he thought, and has information that shows what is really going on.

Six takes the information, and the hunt is on. This all happens in the first 10 -15 minutes. There is a lot more that unfolds after this but I’m not going to drop any spoilers. The Gray Man is a solid action movie with a good story.

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There is one action sequence early on featuring a plane when I found the direction a bit messy. If I was to guess, I would also say budget constraints meant they had to put some very heavy filters over the top of it so you didn’t see any bad CG at this point.

There is another moment where the plot dictates the main bad guy sends in the troops to complete an operation, where he should have obviously been doing it himself. However it is clear he would have died if he tried and the plot needs him later so a leap has to be made to let play out this way.

Also, there is a perfectly good opportunity to kill the main bad guy at one point, but again the plot dictates they don’t take it. These are problems in a lot of action movies though. The rest of the movie is just great. There are some brutal punch-ups, including de Armas having her ass kicked, and a couple of good “Holy Shit!” moments.

Gosling is excellent in this. He is a total bad ass, reminiscent of Drive, but amped up and taking a kicking. You defiantly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Six.

This brings me to Evans. He plays the bad guy and he’s really great. Totally unhinged, will do anything to get his man, and seems to take pleasure in torturing people. This is almost the complete opposite of Captain America, and it works beautifully. He’s having fun.

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They say Bond is only as good as the bad guy, and in The Gray Man you can really get your teeth into hating this bad guy. He’s really good at being bad.

Overall, this is a really solid action flick. There’s no woke, there’s no message, there’s no tokenism. The Russos just wanted to make an awesome action thriller and that’s what they did. The Winter Soldier is one of the best of the MCU movies, and this has pretty much the same tone, but a lot more violence.

de Armas was there as a support to Gosling, not to be better than him or be the centre of attention. When she does something, it is because she is capable and competent, not in that “women are great and men are stupid” way Hollywood thinks is required for strong female characters.

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I honestly found myself on the edge of my seat during the movie. When the action does go a little too over the top, you can ignore it as you’re just having a great time watching it.

Totally recommended and I will be seeing it again.

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