Russo Brothers’ latest flick disappoints because it comes out as a grand version of the Wachowski Brothers’ Assassins
Agree or not, the 1990s was the decade of action flicks that are still loved, followed, and appreciated. Be it the Die Hard franchise or the other action movies from the same decade, every film suited the pre-internet era and that’s what made them stand out. However, if a big-budget film is made in that vein in 2022, then the audience will reject it, even if it casts Captain America as a man worse than his worst enemy. The Gray Man is one such flick that goes down as an updated take on Richard Donner’s Assassins and the films it inspired but doesn’t stand on its own because of its simplistic plot, unnecessary ensemble cast and overdose of action.
After one elite CIA black ops assassin dubbed Sierra Six (Ryan Gosling) finds out that his predecessors are not retired but executed, he decides to call it a day but not before getting his hand on a drive that can incriminate his corrupt handler Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page). In order to get back the drive, Denny has Six’s mentor Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) and his niece Claire (Julia Butters) kidnapped by former-spy-turned-for-hire hitman Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) who is both devilish and mentally unstable. With the help of Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), Six tries to rescue his mentor and his niece, while escaping fellow assassins, including Lone Wolf (Dhanush) and Co., as well as bringing down those who want to see him dead.
The women are only used as secondary characters and the filmmakers weren’t able to use the presence of powerful performers like Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick and Margaret Cahill. One is the handler who is accused of being a traitor, the other is someone who wasn’t considered for a promotion because of her gender and the third is a former agent living a retired life. The film would have been complete even without their contribution and if that doesn’t highlight the plot’s weakness, nothing will.
The Verdict: 2.5/5
The Gray Man could have been the Russo Brothers’ ticket to a Cinematic Universe that wasn’t ‘Marvel’ where they could have explored themselves. However, they continued to drive on the same road, with more money, an ensemble cast that wasn’t needed, and a single-track story that limited them to full-throttle action. Their fans might have expected the same from them but it’s not something that others hadn’t seen before. A good guy chasing a bad guy across the globe is one of the most clichéd plots in Hollywood, and unless it is done in a different manner, most films following it end up as a one-time watch.
Had the filmmakers reduced the dialogues to something creative, the audience would have given their nod of approval to the film. Chris Evans tries too hard to come up as a bully who must be taught a lesson, hence speaks a lot of trash that could have been avoided. Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, keeps a cool head in every situation and comes out as the winner, but even he has a lot of dialogues that could have been reduced.
Watch it for the grand action scenes, the overwhelming destruction of public property, and some very creative gun fights, especially the one that takes place in Prague, on the roof of a moving train. The directors had to show how and where they used the 200-million-dollar budget, but had they used a fraction of it on the script, The Gray Man viewers would have been less disappointed.