By: Amanda Guarragi
Another action flick by the Russo brothers outside of the MCU will hit Netflix on Friday with some pretty notable stars. The Gray Man has Ryan Gosling as the CIA’s top asset, and no one knows his identity. He then uncovers agency secrets and triggers a global hunt by assassins set loose by his ex-colleague. It seems like a generic and simple premise for an action movie, but the execution makes it difficult to understand at times. It’s all a grey area which makes perfect sense for Gosling’s character Court Gentry, who is having an epiphany due to his job. It feels similar to another action hero uncovering his company’s secrets, but the Russo’s made the story their own.
For some reason, the Russos have lost their ability to make a polished action sequence. From Captain America: The Winter Soldier they brought such tight-knit direction to their fight scenes. But, with each new film released, it just seems like they lost their way. The choreography in The Gray Man was compact and had many maneuvers, but the editing just made it jarring to watch. The sound design was strong because you could hear those punches connect and make contact with whatever they were hitting. So after the fifth action sequence, the story just fades into the background and they’re just fighting to keep the movie alive. Just because there are multiple fight scenes, doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes for an engaging movie.
Is the movie action-packed? Yes. Is the action interesting? Only within the third act. It’s hard to keep a consistent level of fight techniques as they escalate into a final battle. They just become more flashy with no substance. Even the sweeping drone shots for the transitions and Russo’s famous bold intertext for location changes were a bit much. It may have been a creative choice, but it was overdone within minutes. The cast had star power, but they were also severely underused. There’s Rege Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, and Ana de Armas who just didn’t get enough screen time for anyone to care about their characters. Thankfully, Ryan Gosling held this together with Chris Evans. Even though we barely got them on screen together.
The Gray Man is generic as they come and doesn’t really add anything to the genre. At one time the Russo brothers knew how to direct action scenes, but now they have declined in quality. This movie is a mindless, jumbled mess of an action film, with seasoned performances from Gosling and Evans. Unfortunately, they couldn’t save this movie from being a bit dull at times. The storyline wasn’t strong enough to warrant any scenes in between that had no action. So, audiences will be waiting for the next action scene instead of following the story that is unfolding in front of them. It’s not a well-rounded action movie by any means, but if you want to see Evans in a villainous role and a mustache, then this is fine.