The Gray Man – 2022

Directors Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Screenplay Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton

Shadowy Government Organization movies always involve one agent rubbing out another and this one is no exception. This time, we have the CIA (in the form of Thornton) hiring an convict (Gosling), and naming him simply “Six.” The first hit of the movie involves the demise of Four. When he discovers who he is killing, he asks his target why. The target hands him a MacGuffin. Then the race is on for Six to outlast the ones who sent him after Four.

The person after him (Page) is in the CIA, and he’s been doing bad stuff. He pushed out Thornton’s Fitzroy and Woodard’s Cahill, so no doubt we know they’ll be involved in the redemption and rescue of a variety of potential collatoral damage. The incredibly deft and beautiful de Armas is Miranda, the CIA agent not allied with the bad guys who will of course end up allied with Six.

The rest of the film plays like any rogue agent film you’ve seen, with one possible exception.

Gosling, however, provides much of the reason one should enjoy watching The Gray Man. His casual demeanor in the face of horrible odds has never played better. He has a delightful knack for the unexpected snappy answer to any of a series of stupid questions. This viewer could watch him do this for hours and have a vibe somewhere between Reeves’ John Wick and Ryan Reynolds in most things. Gosling shows a knack for fighting while looking effortless and pained simultaneously.

To counter Gosling’s casual approach to the material, we have Evans doing his most “ass off” acting possible. He has every insult known to man spewing at all times. He’s enjoyable enough that you want him dead the first time you see him, but you enjoy Gosling getting the verbal best of every interaction.

The Gray Man is not as great movie, but it is a good one. The filming alternates between fantastic drone sweeps and confusing fight scenes (the airplane and Prague in particular). It’s the kind of film that would have played better in the ’90’s than it will after something like Russo’s Avengers Endgame.

Thornton, de Armasm Woodard and Henwick are a net plus. One could say Evans looks like he’s having fun, but he also looks like he is having a blast as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies, so that’s not a guarantee we would all have fun with him.

If you take this film as a Gosling vehicle, and you won’t be disappointed. If you think of it as the Russo’s and Evans’ followup to their magnificent MCU films, you may be left wanting.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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