Netflix’s $200 million action flick is one of the year’s worst.
“The Gray Man” and “Red Notice” are both among the most expensive films made for Netflix at the budget of $200 million. “Red Notice” had only two laughs and a massive amount of mean-spirited stupidity, while “The Gray Man” represents a rich man lighting his money on fire to light his cigar. It’s a waste of money. If I had that kind of green, I would rather pay to meet the film’s fresh talents from Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans to the directors Anthony and Joe Russo, than to waste it on seeing every boring and bombastic cliche presented here.
The Russo Brothers have been able to prove they’re both more than MCU filmmakers. They also directed “Cherry,” and produced “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” but with “The Gray Man,” they somehow have been following in the footsteps of Michael Bay, who seems to care more about big stars and big action than an ingenious story. In fact, it’s basically the same crap we’re gonna keep seeing over and over again.
Oh, God. I know this is going to be a big hit on Netflix.
Gosling, in his first role since “First Man,” plays an undercover CIA operative under the alias Six, who was recruited earlier by the handler Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), in exchange for an early realize from prison. Gosling specializes in playing strong heroes, as presented in “Drive” and “Blade Runner: 2049,” but here, he just flounders around, and let the action take control of his gifts. It’s a waste of his potential.
After a botched mission to assassinate a target, his boss named Carmichael (Rege-Jean Page) then enlists his tough guy Lloyd Hansen (Evans) to track his down. His name is not ideal, but it’s his mustache, hairstyle, and acting that makes us assume it’s another actor parodying Evans. Or better yet, he nearly looks like a retired porn star, who decided to take up bodybuilding and wears a golf shirt to look more causal. He looks stupid.
The worst thing about “The Gray Man” regards a hostage situation. Fitzroy has a niece named Claire (Julia Butters), who has a pacemaker inside, and both of them have been abducted by Lloyd’s men. The earlier scenes feature Claire being the young sassy type trying to hide the pain of her heart condition, and the child actress who portrays her had a brilliant small role in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But even worse, and I’m glad this movie is rated PG-13, is when Fitzroy’s fingernails have to be removed by Lloyd. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I hate this kind of torture. It doesn’t matter the rating.
Then, we get a car chase scene that involves trains and guns and explosions and crashes and yelling. Yawn! If you did ignore my warnings about this ambitious mess, you would look indifferently at your laptop or book. It’s an exercise in pointless special effects. And the only person willing to help Six out of danger is Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), who has to tranquilize him to rescue him and act like the tough CIA agent.
“The Gray Man” has some attractive features like a computer keyboard that lights in different colors, but mostly, it’s an expansive project that burns all its money in the analogy I’ve mentioned. It’s bombastic, poorly acted, and noisy all the way through. I have absolutely nothing against Gosling, Evans, de Armas, Thornton, Jessica Henwick (as Lloyd’s voice of reason), Alfre Woodard (as another good former agent), or the Russo Brothers. They’ve all done better and can do better. This movie is probably the lowest of the low.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
Premiering on Netflix Next Week