The Gray Man review: Action-packed but bogged down by spy cliches

In The Gray Man, former Sierra agent, Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), is hunted down by the sociopathic CIA official Lloyd Hanson (Chris Evans).

Story

Court Gentry, a criminal, is recruited by Donald Fitzroy to become part of a CIA project called ‘Sierra’, which utilised past criminals as ruthless assassins.

Years later, Gentry goes by the name of ‘Six’ due to his status as one of the members of Sierra. During an operation comes to a shocking realisation.

Tasked with killing another Sierra member, Four, Six is made aware of the fact that the CIA is harbouring its own secrets and one of the heads, Denny Carmichael, cannot be trusted.

Before dying, Four trusts Six with a drive that could change everything. Denny begins to hunt Six in an attempt to retrieve the drive, sending Lloyd Hansen, a former colleague of Six at the CIA, after him.

As the cat and mouse game begins, the stakes are raised when Fitzroy and his niece, Claire, are captured by Lloyd. Will Six be able to come out on top?

Performances

Ryan Gosling, as Six, and Chris Evans, as Lloyd Hansen, are at the centre of the narrative as the latter attempts to hunt down the former. The squabble is entertaining as Lloyd has a slightly unhinged personality.

Both Gosling and Evans, however, play characters that are nothing new to spy movies and do not have much depth to them. With the scope limited, the two do an adequate job, at best.

Rege-Jean Page’s Denny Carmichael is quite one-tone and the actor is wasted in the role. Billy Bob Thornton performs well as Donald Fitzroy, but the character’s relationship with Six could have been explored better.

Ana de Armas, as Dani Miranda, and Jessica Henwick, as Suzanne Brewer, again, are underused but shine when given the chance.

Dhanush’s cameo as Avik San is explosive and he impresses with the little screen time he has. The fight sequence between Avik, Six and Dani is one of the highlights of the film. 

Positives

The action sequences mostly deliver, except when shot with vehicles, which are more chaotic than exhilarating. The hand-to-hand combat is thrilling.

For an action film, the pacing works well. Right from the off, the hunt begins and will keep you engaged throughout its near two-hour runtime.

The cinematography is noteworthy, especially in the scenes shot in Prague. The Gray Man works in the aesthetics department.

One of its biggest attractions, the cast will undoubtedly be enough for most people to give it a watch and it works to a certain extent.

Negatives

The film’s attempt to make relationships a part of the narrative is half-baked and such a wasted opportunity. It feels confused between brainless action and exploration of deeper themes.

A spy on the run, an unhinged villain, a female ally choosing to side with the spy, all seem straight out of most spy films out there.

You can predict the film’s events even from the start, right to the deaths of the characters. It doesn’t have the charm of recent Netflix films like The Adam Project either, which blended the action with genuine heartwarming moments.

Verdict

If you are looking for another run-of-the-mill spy film with an appealing cast, thrilling fight sequences and just pure entertainment, The Gray Man will be a decent watch.

But if you go into it looking for a strong narrative; one that makes you feel overwhelmed as the end credits roll, this isn’t for you.

Rating: 3/5


Also Read: Resident Evil (2022) review: A mixed-bag that would be better off without the label