Film Reviews

“Doesn’t Reach High Enough” – Film Review: The Gray Man

Daniel Evans

The Gray Man is the new big budget action thriller heading straight for your Netflix screens. Daniel Evans finds out whether it is worth spending your evening with a stellar cast of Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.

Ironically, The Gray Man is one of the most colourful films of the year. The latest big budget action-blockbuster from Netflix follows Ryan Gosling as he attempts to escape a web of corrupt CIA agents and a sociopathic private contractor played by Chris Evans. This is the classic quintessential action thriller and does not stray at all far from other films of the genre.

If you are a fan of mindless and well-choreographed action then you will enjoy this. Some of the set pieces are fairly ridiculous, but most are slick and well put together. The John Wick films have clearly had an influence and while this doesn’t reach those levels it is by no means a failure.

There is very little room to comprehend what is actually going on

On the other hand, the needlessly stacked cast feels wasted. Supporting characters barely appear on screen for more than a few minutes and we are generally told to care about them rather than being given any real reason to do so. None of the performances are bad; Gosling is solid if not one note, Chris Evans more or less repeats his character from Knives Out (2019) and the remaining supporting cast all dial it in effectively.

This film is gratuitously globetrotting. It travels through Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Baku, Hong Kong, Bangkok and London all building to a final showdown in Croatia. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but this blistering pace interjected with near constant action meant there was very little room to comprehend what is actually going on. The plot is not complicated, but it would have been better to spend more time developing the films characters as I cannot say I ever felt particularly attached to any of them. The constant movement also hurt the films pacing and it did feel very thin in many areas.

The Gray Man is certainly entertaining. Many of its action sequences are colourful and well put together. On the other hand, it is a film with questionable pacing and very little substance. It is unlikely that Netflix will miss its 200 million dollars, however it is also likely that this film will be quickly forgotten along with its other big budget ensemble movies like Red Notice (2021) and Triple Frontier (2019). Action and substance are not mutually exclusive and on the whole The Gray Man had a rushed feel to it. Had more effort been put in to utilising the considerable talents of its cast then it would have been a far stronger film.

Daniel Evans

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @netflixuk via No changes were made to this image.

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