‘The Gray Man’ Movie Review: James Bond Meets Jason Bourne

The Gray Man

I’m not normally a big fan of action films. Though anytime a new James Bond or Jason Bourne movie comes out, I’m there with popcorn and ready to go! And when I first saw the trailer for Netflix’s The Gray Man, it felt very much like one of those movies. I was sold. So how did it compare to other spy thrillers?  Let’s just say that Netflix better make use of this character and build this out into a full franchise.

And to be clear, the Russo brothers (who directed the film) already have plans for expanding The Gray Man universe into additional films and series (think what Disney has done with Marvel and Star Wars). They just need the go-ahead from the streaming giant.

The Gray Man tells the story of CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), aka Sierra Six. Plucked from a federal penitentiary and recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), Gentry was once a highly-skilled, Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. But now the tables have turned, and Six is the target.  Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA, has hunted him across the globe. And Hansen will stop at nothing to take him out. Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) has his back. He’ll need it.

The Gray Man Movie Trailer

The Gray Man Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

Netflix has found its Bond. There’s not really much criticism I have for this title. The script, the performances, the effects – everything was stellar – and exactly what you want from a summer blockbuster. 

Script

The script is based on the book of the same name by Mark Greenway. And while I haven’t read the book, I’m honestly intrigued after seeing the film. The action is consistent throughout – but there is well-placed humor that breaks up the scenes and creates nice overall pacing for the film. Despite the serious subject matter, the film never gets too dark, and it manages to keep the movie-watching experience fun and riveting.

Acting

I’ve never really considered Ryan Gosling an action star. Sure, he’s been in action movies. But he hasn’t been in anything remotely comparable to this one. Here, he delivers a solid performance that is easily comparable to the likes of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible or Matt Damon in the Jason Bourne films. He’s more than capable of carrying this franchise.

While Chris Evans also delivers a solid, fairly psychotic performance as the unhinged villain, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how over-the-top the character is. That’s not knocking Evans or his performance. The character just has a big personality.

Ana de Armas, Regé-Jean Page, Billy Bob Thorton, and the rest of the supporting cast also deliver solid performances – nothing that truly stands out – but the action sequences are the real star of this film.

Ryan Gosling in The Gray Man

Action & Effects

Holy wow, the action… Not being a huge fan of action flicks, I can’t even begin to imagine the reaction of someone who is. The Gray Man tallied up a total budget of right around $200 million for the production, and you can see every cent of it on scene.

Joe Russo admitted to NY Times that the actual filming itself nearly killed them. There’s one action sequence that took roughly a month to produce. From large guns to cars to a tram car zipping its way through Prague’s Old Town quarter, that one scene cost the production nearly $40 million to make. But it’s hands down one of the best action sequences I’ve EVER seen on the screen. 

And that’s just one of what feels like countless action sequences in the film – there are actually nine in total. I was literally on the edge of my seat, completely tensed up, and entirely immersed in the story. 

The Gray Man Poster

The Gray Man Movie Review: Overall Thoughts

The only negative thing I can say about The Gray Man is it’s a big movie that feels like it should be seen on the big screen. And that’s a negative because the film was released in theaters on July 15th to only 2,000 theaters. It’s a small run, because the film was made for Netflix. And thus, it debuts on our small screens on July 22nd.

But regardless of the medium that you watch this one on, it’s a fun, thrilling ride from beginning to end. And it’s been a hot minute since I’ve watched something that I knew was going to be something bigger. Like when I watched the screeners for the first season of Stranger Things back in 2016, I knew I was watching something that would be an international success. The Gray Man absolutely has the potential to be the next Jason Bourne or the next Bond. The question is just, is Netflix the right place for it. Only time will tell.

The Gray Man Movie Review: 

Grade: B+

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