The Gray Man offers a big summer blast of brainless blockbuster fun courtesy of the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe of Avengers: Endgame fame), Ryan Gosling kicking major ass, and Chris Evans scoring as a smiley-faced, coldhearted villain.
Honestly, a day after seeing The Gray Man, I don’t even fully remember what it was about … something to do with Gosling getting freed from prison to work as an assassin for the CIA, and eventually getting targeted in some sort of CIA “dark ops cleansing” deal.
However, I don’t really care what it was about, because things go boom really good in it … duh.
That’s right: Sometimes I like to just turn my brain off and watch people hit each other and blow up with aplomb. This film has that, as well as good lead performances, a nice return to form by Billy Bob Thornton, Ana de Armas as a fellow agent, and the evolving greatness of young Julia Butters, the cool kid who traded acting punches with Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood—and won. She does the same with everybody who shares the screen with her in this movie.
The stunts are spectacular; the fights are well choreographed; and the pyro is on point. Evans is great as a mustachioed villain on a mission to find Gosling’s character, who, of course, has something he really wants. He’s funny in a sick way—casually shooting and torturing people, big-movie-villain style. Gosling turns in his usual effortless movie-star-turn in the lead, garnering laughs and coming across as convincing as a premium fist-thrower and gun-shooter.
What more do you want when you press play on a Netflix movie on a summer night? No, your horizons won’t expand when you watch this—the film might actually kill a few brain cells—but you’ll have fun, sort of like drinking two six packs and chasing your dog around the house for two hours. Stupid fun, minus the eventual vomiting because you ate all those nachos before the beer and dog chasing.
There’s a series of books upon which this film is based, and this movie left me wanting to see some more. We shall see what the Netflix streaming algorithm says about audience participation to determine whether or not this is the beginning of a franchise, or a one-time, orgasmic blast of proficiently executed blockbuster madness.
The Gray Man is now streaming on Netflix.