The grey Man is a movie by the rather famous Anthony and Joe Russo. You know, those brothers who made the best Marvel movies. They were movies with heart, character development and loads of action. One of those three elements is in the Grey Man. It isn’t heart, and it sure as hell isn’t character development. It’s action. And for a 2 hour and 9 minute window, it’s a fun flick to watch to forget that we are living in the worst timeline.
The Grey Man is based on the 2009 novel by Mark Greaney. I haven’t read it and probably never will. Back in 2011 they were going to make an adaptation of it. Only it had Brad Pitt and Charlize Theron in. And Charlize was supposed to play the Grey
Man Woman. It’s sat in development hell until 2020 when the Russo Bros TM got on board. I mean, they could literally make anything right now. Whether it’s going to be a good movie is irrelevant. They have clout.
There’s a story though right? RIGHT?
What’s it about? To be honest, who cares? You don’t watch a movie like this for its script. Oh, you want to know? FINE. Ryan Gosling is Sierra 6, an assassin who discovers a dark web of yadda yadda conspiracy type stuff. His character kicks all manner of ass and does so with the emotional and facial range of a bar of soap. I’m not kidding. He reminded me of Joe in Blade Runner 2049. Only Joe was like that because he was a frigging replicant.
On his tail is the far more fun to watch Chris Evans. He plays Lloyd Hansen, a sociopath that makes the movie worth watching. Seriously, he’s the best thing about this (par the action). You can see he had a great time in this movie. With the best bits of dialogue ‘$10m to the first person who puts a bullet in Ken Dolls Head (a reference to Gosling who will be playing Ken in the upcoming Barbie movie) and a character who is so over the top you can’t not enjoy him.
The roster is full of stars though. We have Billy Bob Thornton, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page to name some. But they all have supporting roles in this. It’s an Evans vs Gosling showdown and everything around them will burn. And explode. And get shot and stabbed. But if you are stabbed it’s not that serious. The bants between characters is great too. Although thin on backstory, with the calibre of these actors you are going to get some great deliveries even if the script is shit.
The bad guy is… Well rather lame to be honest. Regé-Jean Page as Denny Carmichael, does a good enough job, but is very much under utilised. The real baddy here is Hansen as the rouge merc, working for Charmichael, who is probably working for someone else…
Never throw a gun with bullets
The actions beats in this are hit great, though. The Russo Brothers know how to make an action movie. Which is why I was so confused about why they had such shit camera work. Most of it is great. But they over use a swooping camera movement over action that makes you not only miss what is going on, but also feel slightly seasick. The camera cuts are also all over the place. There’s a brilliant fight scene that takes place in and among fireworks going off. And I couldn’t track what was happening. It’s frenetic to an almost Bourne level, which is god awful when it’s a dark scene, and many are.
There’s also the pace of the film. Which, while I do like my action thick and hard… Is so breakneck you don’t get a moment’s pause to savour what you’ve just watched. There is a superb scene in Prague where multiple mercenaries descend on Six and Miranda that is framed by… Well… More action. It almost turns into a blur of action after action when really good action beats should have been climatic.
It does make one worry about Netflix and their business model. They’ve recently announced they have lost a million subs, which is to be expected as there are a lot more services out there. But this movie cost a whopping $200 million to make; the most expensive Netflix movie to date. And it’s flopped, at least in the eyes of critics. It’s currently sitting on 48% on RT! While that is no perfect indication that a movie is bad, it’s useful for tracking consistency. And the last ‘big’ Netflix movie Spiderhead was also a critical failure. I mean hell. It’s reported that Gosling and Evans both received $20m for their roles. I mean come on. That’s ridiculous money.
I honestly don’t see this as a sustainable model. A mate suggested a sort of Blumhouse model might be better. Produce 10 movies a year, at a tenth of the price, and if one works, everyone keeps their jobs. I think that’s a far better idea than spending hundreds of millions on making a movie, then a bunch more advertising it, for it to critically flop.
The Grey Man
I still enjoyed The Grey Man. It was mindless, fun and there is a place in the world for that. That said, I’ve read that they already are planning a prequal and sequel to this movie… Time will tell if they can nail the script as well as they nail some of the actions beats.
I’ll give The Grey Man