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Review: The Gray Man. Nothing new, but it doesn’t get old either

  • Release year: 2022
  • Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
  • Producers: Chris Castaldi, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Mike Larocca, Joe Roth, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
  • Screenplay by: Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
  • Cinematographer: Stephen F. Windon.
  • Music by: Henry Jackman.

Synopsis: a special agent working for the CIA discovers that his boss is corrupt thanks to some documents on a pendrive. This knowledge puts his life in danger as the world’s least scrupulous assassin starts to hunt him down under orders of the aforementioned boss.

Shotgun commentary: Basically an action movie with flashy actors and actresses, lots of different weapons, and crazy manoeuvres and stunts. It’s honestly a great way to pass the time and flatline your brain activity for a while, just don’t expect anything original whatsoever.

An huge explosion taking place in the middle of a city. Review of The Grey Man.
A car exploding, pretty much the best way to describe the gratuitous violence of this scene.

Review

I’ll start with the most eye-catching part of the movie: wardrobe and photography. All of the outfits are fantastic and stylish, borderline fashion show sometimes, which makes no sense whatsoever since spies shouldn’t want to grab the attention of the room, but hey, aesthetics, am I right?

Miranda giving an assignment to Six. Review: The Grey Man
Agent Miranda (Ana de Armas) giving an assignment to Six (Ryan Gosling).

Colours, colours, colours!!

As far as photography is concerned, the lighting is outstanding. The mixture of colours and movement sets a beautiful atmosphere that merges seamlessly with the characters, sets and mood of each scene. Regrettably, sometimes more is less… or pure chaos in this instance. Some scenes have so many flashes of colour, camera movements and audio effects that everything just blends into an epileptic seizure trigger moment where you have no hope of following what’s going on.

An explosion of fireworks that doesn't let the audience make out what's going on. Review: The Grey Man
Do you know what’s going on? Yeah, me neither.

Cliché, cliché, cliché…

Another miss of the movie is the characters. It is truly sad that having such a talented cast, the characters were as forgettable as they could be. Six, the main character, has the same personality as the Driver from Drive, so it’s essentially Ryan Gosling playing the same character again, but growing fond of a kid instead of his neighbour.

Not surprisingly, this character pales in comparison to his adversary: Ransom Drysd- I mean… Lloyd Hansen. He’s pretty funny, and he wins extra points for having tantrums Gary Oldman style, but that’s about it. Nothing about this character is original, take Ransom Drysdale from Knives Out, give him the background and moustache of August Walker from Mission Impossible – Fallout, and you have this guy.

Hansen threatening Six. Review: The Grey Man
Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) threatening Six.

Also, what’s with actors trying to get out of their superhero roles by playing bad guys with big moustaches? I would say please don’t make it a trend, but considering it’s funnier every time it happens, please let it be a trend, just to see how far they can take it.

Lloyd Hansen smiling. Review: The Grey Man
Lloyd Hansen happily hating cats.

Homage or more cliché?

Of course, cliché personalities must be seasoned with cliché situations to make the perfect flatline brain while keeping the experience enjoyable. Starting with the “engine vs man” moment reminiscent of Lost, there is a surprising amount of scenes that will remind you of other movies or TV shows, such as the MacGyver scene in the well, the free falling from a plane Uncharted style, the use of clothing vocabulary as code, giving Kingsman and John Wick vibes… Will these crazy awesome situations make you have a great time? Most definitely. Do they bring something new to the table? Not really.

Fig. 6. Six about to cause a big explosion, as mentioned in the review, very much MacGyver style to be The Gray Man. Source: The Gray Man (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2022).

Credit where credit’s due

However, not everything about the plot is ordinary and clichéd, the fight choreographies are amazing -even if sometimes the special effects feel a bit rudimentary. This is due to two key factors. Firstly, there is a moment when there are two characters fighting against one and they don’t do the typical one-on-one rubbish. They want to win, so they attack at the same time, like any person with two functional neurons would do. Thank you so much for that.

Miranda and Six fighting Avik San.
Agent Miranda and Six fighting against Avik San (Dhanush).

Secondly, despite the whole “I don’t feel pain” nonsense that every character in this kind of movie suffers from, it was pleasantly surprising to see that the final showdown between the good guy and the bad one feels somewhat… reasonable? Maybe all of the testosterone peaks that happened before rendered me insensible to any new stunts, but the fight felt quite even and the result reasonably plausible.

Fig. 8. The Russo brothers have clearly grown fond of statues in credits, and I can totally understand why. The whole credits sequence is a delight to watch, probably the most beautiful part of the Gray Man, even if I didn’t mention them in the review. Source: The Gray Man (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2022).

What’s your take on The Gray Man ?

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