Netflix is ​​wasting Ryan Gosling in a new action movie

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movie reviews

Netflix’s new film starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans has stylish action galore, but lacks substance.

Chris Evans in “The Gray Man”. Paul Abell/Netflix

“The Gray Man” netflixThe new action movie from Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans represents everything the streaming giant wants to do as a company. Faced with plateauing subscriber growth and declining profits, the company reportedly pledged to release fewer projects, opting instead to focus on big-budget titles with top-tier talent.

Like a Hollywood Reporter Title To sum up, the company’s strategy is “bigger, fewer and better”.

‘The Gray Man’ is certainly bigger: it’s the studio’s most expensive film, and places Evans, Gosling and fellow star Ana de Armas (‘Knives Out’) in a never-ending series of explosive action scenes and fraught with effects. . In the film’s opening sequence, Gosling’s CIA hitman (known only as “Six”) battles a target on a rooftop that launches thousands of fireworks, preparing viewers for the film. coming.

Ultimately, “The Gray Man” looks a lot like a 4th of July fireworks display: it’s fun to watch, and you can appreciate the visual craftsmanship while being caught up in the moment. But you’re not watching anything new or innovative, and if someone were to ask you for your favorite part 30 minutes after the end, you’d be hard pressed to articulate a single thing that happened beyond “things went wrong.” exploded”.

The parcel

“The Gray Man” spends the first 20 minutes transporting viewers from country to country as we learn the backstory of Six (Gosling), a former inmate snatched from his cell by the CIA and sentenced to life. as an extrajudicial hitman. His former manager (Billy Bob Thornton) is retired, and Six would also like to come up with an exit plan. But when he obtains evidence against a corrupt CIA bureaucrat (Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgeton”), Six goes from hitman to target.

Because the CIA typically uses Six for not-so-legal kills like this, they instead turn to a loose cannon named Lloyd Hansen (Evans). While Six is ​​not bound by laws, Lloyd is constrained by neither laws nor a moral compass, leaving a trail of corpses in his pursuit.

Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling in
Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling in “The Gray Man”.

Good

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Endgame”) received a proverbial blank check from Netflix, and they left it all on screen. The brothers have always known how to pull off slick and engaging action sequences, from their early days leading the paintball-themed episodes of “Community” to the four Marvel movies they’ve made in the past decade.

Thanks to these films, the Russos also know what they have in Evans, who gets the most laughs in “The Gray Man” playing an evil antagonist. Sporting a wicked mustache, Evans smirks throughout the film, spouting intentionally hackneyed line readings like “Make him dead.”

Although they spend very little screen time together, Gosling and Evans’ chemistry is undeniable. In the moments when they clash, you’ll wish “The Gray Man” had ditched half a dozen other characters to give these two more time to pulverize each other with their words and their fists.

The bad

The Russos have experience both parodying action procedurals on “Community” and then making fun, fun superhero movies for Marvel. Unfortunately, they can’t quite decide if the tone of “The Gray Man” is winking or heartfelt.

Gosling, who in the past superbly played both a buttoned-up killer in “Drive” and a clumsy criminal in “The Nice Guys”, suffers the most from the bifurcated approach. For a moment, he thinks of his father drowning him in a bathtub or burning him with a car cigarette lighter. A few minutes later, he engages in a completely direct dialogue with de Armas’ CIA agent who seems to be supposed to be funny and charming, but didn’t elicit any laughter during the screening I saw .

There’s also a subplot involving the retired CIA chief Thornton’s teenage daughter trying to humanize Six that doesn’t really work and isn’t necessary. The less we talk about it, the better.

The essential

“The Gray Man” is just a perfectly average action movie, well below “Mission: Impossible” and “John Wick” in quality, but offering enough innocuous entertainment to fill two hours. That said, given Netflix’s spending and the pedigree of on-screen stars, audiences deserve — and should expect — more.

Should I watch “The Gray Man”?

Netflix releases “The Gray Man” in theaters from July 15 ahead of its debut on the streaming platform on July 22. While action movies are always more fun on the big screen, “The Gray Man” isn’t good enough to be a theatrical movie. have.

Evaluation: 2 stars (out of 4).

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