With Ryan Gosling Vs Chris Evans, The Gray Man had a chance to become this generation’s Heat (De Nero Vs Pacino) but it loses out on a great opportunity.
Action adventures are the most popular and safest recipes these days that have a great chance of working onscreen given that most of these films are consumed for their extravagant action sequences rather than their dabble in logic and physics. But even the most well-crafted and choreographed action sequences need a convincing story to join the dots because no matter how great these sequences are, without a story, they do start to fall apart. And that’s precisely what’s disappointing about The Gray Man. It’s beautifully shot at various locations with well-choreographed action sequences.
In a cliché wrap-around of many stories, the plot of the film is a mixed bag that goes on a journey from Bangkok to Baku, Monaco to Vienna, Turkey to finally Croatia. Courtland Gentry, also known as Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling), a world-class assassin is a silent-brooding man with a past and moral conscience, connected to the CIA. He ends up finding some of the dirty laundries of the CIA which they were desperately trying to hide. To stop him, Regé-Jean Page, the current head of the CIA, ends up hiring Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a psychopathic contract killer with no limit or morals with his good dressing style and mustache (trash Stache) adorns the look of a seventies toxic man who lowkey looks like a salesman. It’s a typical cat-mouse chase between Sierra Six and Lloyd Hansen where there are clearly sides to be chosen.
To be fair, being absolutely in love with Ryan Gosling’s silent brooding acting (remember drive), Chris Evans being his charming self, Ana De Armas kicking some ass, and our very own Indian boy, Dhanush – all of these people coming together with the Russo Brothers got me giddy and excited that something truly big is coming and maybe that’s why after watching the film, disappointment was real and heartbreaking. There were supposed to be six action sequences which increased to nine, and while each one is riding high on adrenaline and leaves your jaw open, the story connecting them all is so thin that after a point when a knife guts Gosling, you start questioning the logic, physics, and his so-called immortality even after the pretty impressive action.
Chris Evans has quite the screen presence as a villain and he works brilliantly with what little is given to him. With his 70s toxic guy look, trash Stache, ken doll ref, and ‘how hard is it to kill a person chained to a bench’ reality humor, he adds flavor to this otherwise bland movie. Wish there was a development of this nail-piercing torturous guy who knows no bounds so I could be in awe of him rather than just impressed but that’s the case with the entire film. And while I am super proud of Dhanush’s entry, his enormous screen presence and talent aren’t fully utilized to his potential. Even if you let go of that, having Ryan Gosling and not utilizing his silent brooding acting is terribly disappointing. Giving a mere slice of a backstory that’s all parts confusing and not at all convincing, is what The Gray Man is really all about.
Though what’s appreciated about the film is its do-away with gender, and identity politics and not keeping them for the sake of representation. Ana De Armas is an agent who works with a conscience and her presence of mind rather than just portraying a woman who can kick ass and save Ryan Gosling. And even Dhanush is not just a sexy Tamil friend but a kickass contract catcher who has enough clarity on his mission and boundaries. But given that it’s a Russo Brothers film who are considered to be the masters of producing world-class action sequences with storytelling depth, this film with its talented cast, beautiful cinematography, and well-designed action-packed scenes is a disappointment to the hype.
Now that it’s officially announced that this is a franchise and the next film in the pipeline is of the Sierra Six which may be able to will give more clarity to the Six’s arc. But is it too much to wish for that in this era filled with franchises, can we chance upon an exceptional action adventure that can be solely enjoyed and not watched as a time pass or as a part of the whole series?
You can watch The Gray Man on Netflix!
Also Read: Was The Gray Man a thrilling action-packed entertainer for the Janta? Let’s find out!
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