The Russo Brothers best known for their Avenger’s contributions (End Game) have teamed up with Netflix to bring to life the graphic novel The Gray Man starring A-Listers like Ryan Gosling (who has been missed from the big screen since 2018), Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thorton, Rege-Jean Page, and Ana De Armas. Coming in at a whopping $200 million for Netflix, does the film deliver on its hefty price tag?
The Conservative Critic asks: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And most importantly: Is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Gray Man
Overall Rating: Could have been better
With its inflated budget and absolutely star-studded cast – not to mention an action hero worthy concept – The Gray Man should and could have been better. While there was no shortage of action, a lot of the fighting sequences were one noted foregoing a build and final climax for constance. The storyline started fairly strong but fizzled out into confusion somewhere along the way and sort of limped along in its simplicity. Not only was the plot basically the same as every spy movie plot ever made from James Bond installments to Mission Impossible, it was not nearly as well adapted.
On the other hand, the acting was pretty strong and the cinematography was high quality. It’s entertaining enough to stay engaged for the entire film (or mostly) and it wasn’t a complete mess. Ultimately, The Gray Man is a b-rate spy versus spy flick disguised in the trappings of a blockbuster.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: It has its ups and downs
The Gray Man starts in a prison cell and jumps right into action from there. Each scene launches a new segment of action be it a fight scene, a chase scene, a shoot out, a kidnapping etc. So there is plenty to look at for the duration of the film and lots of high energy to pull you in. Unfortunately, it’s a bit one note. So many times the bad spy sends his goons to get the good spy in the exact same way. The fighting is all about the same level of chaos and odds busting and no one moment seems to carry more weight than another without the characters verbally prompting that “this time it’s bad.”
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: I guess money can’t always buy quality after all
The movie cost $200 million. That is more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier, any Mission Impossible film or the recent smash hit which includes actors flying for real in fighter jets, Top Gun: Maverick. Somehow Netflix manages to spend more on The Gray Man than these smash successes (both in the box office and with critics) and come out like the b-rate step cousin of John Wick.
The storyline is the biggest problem in the film and the dialogue is the second biggest problem. The story goes from a believable albeit cliched set-up to nothing, it stops there. The entire film centers around control of a certain object in a very laser focused and yet somehow totally forgettable way. About midway through, viewers may find themselves thinking, “Wait, why are they trying to kill each other again?”
On the other hand, the return of Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love) to film is a treat to watch. He delivers a believable performance and a character who is easy to root for. Ana De Armas (Knives Out) was also clothed from her neck to her toes for the entire film which I have to say was a real breath of fresh air. De Armas worked with both Gosling and Evans before in Blade Runner: 2042 and Knives Out respectively. In both of those roles, De Armas shone without the objectification Hollywood seems to insist she needs to thrive since then (her near nudity in No Time To Die was tasteless and her upcoming role as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde has received an NC-17 rating). It is interesting to see her return to a role which focuses on her talents with the same leading partners from her other two less body forward films. She does well in The Gray Man, though, her character is all but superfluous (no fault of her own – another flaw in the writing).
Despite the strong performances across the board and a refreshing respect for De Armas, the film really falls short of its potential and is not remotely high quality.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: No except Chris Evans is in it (just kidding)
The movie is about how federal agents are corrupt which is definitely a right leaning point of view not to mention the heavy handed gun celebration. There is even a scene where a gun is hailed as the less barbaric weapon (versus hand to hand combat).
But Chris Evans is in it and he is an extra annoying liberal so it kind of taints it with his liberal musk. I mean look at his insipid Twitter profile pic (below). “Vote” yeah we get it you’re woke you’re into civics like puhlease chill. He also can’t stop talking about how much he loves abortions. It’s just exhausting with this one.
I didn’t actually knock the propaganda score because of his presence but I felt very compelled to do so.
The Gray Man isn’t GRAYt at all but it isn’t an absolute disaster unless you were one of the financial backers for the production. Okay to watch but keep your expectations moderate.