Ending Explained, With the Russo Brothers

Joe and Anthony Russo’s “The Gray Man” has already become one of the most popular Netflix original movies ever, and it’s only been out for a week. But if you have some lingering questions about the ending, we’ve got you covered.

Based on a series of popular novels, “The Gray Man” stars Ryan Gosling as the shadowy figure of the title, an off-the-books government operative named Sierra Six. After a job gone wrong (and after he takes a very important piece of evidence the CIA would rather not get out), he is hunted by sadistic madman Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans). Of course Sierra Six is ​​a slippery one, and Lloyd is given permission by some unscrupulous CIA officials (Jessica Henwick and Regé-Jean Page) to go after a young girl who is close to him (played by “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” breakout Julia Butters). Thankfully, Sierra Six has an uneasy ally in another operative (Ana de Armas). The hunt is on!

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spy vs. Spy

Throughout “The Gray Man,” there is set piece after set piece of Gosling and Evans’ characters attempting to kill one another via increasingly elaborate means. (At one point Hansen puts out the call to a bunch of mercenaries, leading to a shootout through a city square that eventually involves wrecking a train. It’s genuinely insane.) One of the killers that Hansen hires is named Lone Wolf (played by Indian superstar Dhanush). Lone Wolf is very good and just as cool as his name implies.

This all culminates in a go-for-broke rescue mission at a European manor house (or maybe it’s just a straight up castle). Sierra Six and Dani (de Armas) infiltrate the manor to rescue Claire (Butters) and her uncle, Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), the man who recruited Sierra Six. (We see that during the movie’s “cold open.”)

Of course, things predictably go off the rails; Dani faces off against Lone Wolf (Lone Wolf eventually decides Dani is more honorable and doesn’t agree with Hansen’s whole killing-a-child scenario). Sierra Six and Hansen destroy much of the ancient building. Also, at some point during the chaos, the little goober (to use a “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” phrase), containing evidence that Carmichael (Page) was responsible for ordering unsanctioned hits and other unscrupulous activities, is destroyed . It’s a lot.

Eventually Fitzroy is morally wounded and detonates himself in an attempt to kill Hansen (it doesn’t work). And this time he’s really angry. It’s time for one final showdown.

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Into the Maze

And here we have our final confrontation.

Hansen takes Claire hostage and drags her into a hedge maze worthy of the finale of “The Shining.” Sierra Six finds Hansen and they fight. Hansen finally lets go of Claire but before Sierra Six can kill his final target, Hansen is shot and killed by Brewer (Henwick), who promises to pin the entire operation on Carmichael. Brewer says that she’ll always make sure that Claire is is safe, but only if Sierra Six promises to continue to work with her. Miranda has to participate in the cover up as well.

Later, we see Claire in a secure location. She’s bored but hears a familiar song. Six has come to rescue her. He disables the guards and frees her and off they go together.

Meanwhile, in the CIA, Carmichael isn’t prosecuted (he’s barely reprimanded!) and Brewer and Miranda are still employed. There is a reference to people higher up being upset but we don’t see any of the shadowy overlords. We are still with the low-level managerial types. And everybody still has their jobs, of course, emblematic of the United States government’s propensity for having leaders to screw up and then maintain their positions. Failing upwards, we love to see it.

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Russo Brothers Commentary: Who Is the Old Man?

When we talked to Joe and Anthony Russo a few weeks ago, we asked what the plans were for the future of “The Gray Man.” (Earlier this week, Netflix announced a sequel as well as an undisclosed spin-off.) Joe referred to the series of “Gray Man” novels written by Mark Greaney (there are 11 more novels, with another due out next year).

“There already is a universe there, tailor made by a very good author in Mark Greaney. You could go in a lot of different directions with the story. We’ve learned from our days working with Marvel to never get ahead of ourselves, so while we like to indulge the notion that we could expand it,” Joe said. “As we work on a project like this creatively, of course, side conversations are going to come up between us and our longtime collaborators, [writer Christopehr] Markus, [writer Stephen] McFeely, about where we could go. And you’re correct in that we did design the story to not resolve several of the threads in it for that reason.”

Joe was more diplomatic about the potential response to the movie (when we talked the movie hadn’t been released yet). “The audience may tell us they don’t want anymore. They may tell us that they do want more,” Joe said. “It’s in the court of public opinion now, and then once we see how people respond to the movie, we’ll make a decision about what we do next.”

When we asked if they had cast an actor as The Old Man, a mysterious CIA higher-up referred to several times during the course of “The Gray Man,” they said they had not.

“We have not cast anyone, but we do have a few…” Joe said.

“We have a favorite in mind,” Anthony continued.

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