The Gray Man’s entertaining premise and performances by its stars break a trend in Netflix’s series of action-thrillers with A-list actors.
Warning! Minor SPOILERS ahead for The Gray Man.
Netflix has notably churned out several mediocre action movies with A-list stars, but The Gray Man breaks this disappointing curse. Directed by the Russo brothers, who are best known for helming the MCU’s Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgameand two Captain America movies, The Gray Man is Netflix’s latest action movie in a long line of big-budget thrillers. before The Gray Man movie, Netflix recruited big names like Chris Hemsworth to star in Extraction; Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds in Red Notice; and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshakeall of which were divisively or negatively reviewed.
Starring Ryan Gosling as the assassin Sierra Six, Chris Evans as the villainous Lloyd Hansen, and Ana de Armas as Six’s ally, CIA Agent Dani Miranda, The Gray Man is one of Netflix’s most ambitious projects to date. The movie follows CIA assassin Sierra Six after he’s given incriminating information on the agency’s chief, Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page), which leads to a dubiously sanctioned hit on Six to cover up the CIA’s tracks. As Six evades an international manhunt, he must also try to rescue his former case handler Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) and his niece Claire Fitzroy (Julia Butters), both of whom are being held by the sociopathic mercenary Lloyd Hansen.
The Gray Man is by no means a groundbreaking addition to the action-thriller genre, but it’s certainly one of Netflix’s strongest outputs in a series of lackluster big-budget A-lister films. Although The Gray Man has the highest budget of any Netflix movie so far, this wasn’t a guarantee that the film would be any good, as Red Notice previously held this record before debuting to poor responses. Netflix’s action movies appear to be aiming at pure entertainment value, but even so, many haven’t been successful in actually engaging audiences with good stories or performances. However, The Gray Man is easily digestible, has solid performances by The Gray Man cast leads – Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas – and properly put its budget into executing impressive action sequences, such as Six’s escape in the Vienna shootout.
Why The Gray Man Works When Other Netflix Action Movies Didn’t
This isn’t to say that Netflix’s previous action movies weren’t at least enjoyable, but that The Gray Man was able to execute a well-constructed project across the board. The Gray Man is a decent action-thriller that managed to bring together some of the most bankable stars in Hollywood who have time and again proven their skills in the genre, and while the script is less satisfying in its obvious attempt to set up The Gray Man 2, the story is easy to follow despite so many moving pieces. On the other hand, Netflix’s past action movies like Red Notice were ultimately convoluted and criticized for overplaying their hands with unconvincing genre clichés. The Gray Man certainly falls victim to this trend in terms of taking plot points and set-ups from better films, but manages to do so in a less distracting manner.
The greatest asset of the movie is The Gray Man‘s cast, with each character playing to the actors’ strengths, even if that means subverting expectations for their typical roles. Chris Evans, for instance, is playing a deplorable and irredeemable villain in The Gray Man, which certainly contrasts his most famous role as Captain America. Ryan Gosling continues to play a variation of his notable action characters in The Gray Mansuch as his role in drive, who are quieter and more apathetic but continue to show their heart when it matters the most. Unsurprisingly, Ana de Armas gives a standout performance in the supporting role of Dani Miranda, continuing her trend of stealing scenes in hit action films after No Time to Die. The Gray Man may not be the most original of action thrillers for Netflix, but it uses its sizable budget in a manner that prioritizes the qualities necessary for a decent project in the genre: talented stars with chemistry, an anti-hero protagonist, impressive action sequences, an easy-to-track plot, and a fun screenplay.
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