This is flat, flaccid action that makes the wan green-screenery of the MCU look like the delirious highs of Mad Max: Fury Road.
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Gosling and Evans are movie stars, no doubt about it. How far that charisma can take a film is a question “The Gray Man” asks and answers: pretty far, but not far enough.
The algorithmic results don’t reflect well on the Russo brothers’ directing chops — their monumental spandex operas seldom required and never displayed the kind of muscular imagination needed to stage Michael Bay-like fight sequences — but The Gray Man is even more damning for Netflix itself, particularly so far as it epitomizes the streamer’s penchant for producing mega-budget movies that feel like glorified deepfakes of classic multiplex fare.
Gosling’s one of those actors for whom a recurring action hero role somehow feels long overdue, and the Russos have taken advantage of more than just his good looks and smoldering gazes.
Two solid hours of efficient Netflix content is what’s on offer here, the action-thriller equivalent of a conscientiously microwaved Tuscan Sausage Penne from M&S.
What makes The Gray Man exciting — and let’s not beat around the bush: This is the most exciting original action property Netflix has delivered since “Bright” — are the shades the ensemble bring to their characters and the little ways in which the Russos come through where those other films fell short.
Netflix delivers with The Gray Man, a rip-roaring and star-powered spy romp that puts all the money on screen as Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans go head to head.
Around halfway through a sustained shootout in Prague, the sheer thundering mindlessness of the whole enterprise becomes impossible to ignore.
An impression of much better action films, spy thriller The Gray Man (directed by Joe & Anthony Russo) wastes its all-star cast by giving them little to work with beyond quips. While it eventually becomes watchable, it spends most of its runtime being visually and emotionally indecipherable.
Each gun- or fist-fight features a few cool individual images, but these standalone elements never exceed the Russos’ blurry presentation. That’s especially deadly in an action movie that’s constantly trying to give viewers the impression of speed and scope.