The Gray Man – the Netflix movie is based on Mark Greany’s bestselling novel of the same name.
Watching it will remind you a lot of the movie Captain America - The Winter Soldier because both these movies are directed by the incredibly talented directorial duo – Joe and Anthony russo.
The script is written by Christopher Marcus, Stephen McFeely with Joe Russo; the stunt coordinator is James Young, the Score is composed by Henry Hackman, not to mention the movie stars Chris Evans as the main antagonist: so much of the creative team behind Winter Solider and other Marvel projects have come together for this big budget action extravaganza for Netflix.
That is not to say this movie is just a carbon copy of captain america winter soldier... it is anything but.
The gray man is a story about a prison inmate, Court Gentry, who is recruited by a covert wing of the Central Intelligence Agency to be a shadow operative and do things not possible in the normal way. Sort of jumping the line between the black and the white, hence the name Gray man.
Gentry, played by Ryan Gosling is designated Sierra Six – the 6th in the line of Gray Men and arguably the best of them.
The story starts when six has a tussle with four and discovers a dirty secret about the agency. Now he is forced to go on the run because the higher ups in the CIA want him dead and the secrets he stumbled upon, deleted.
In comes Loyd Hansen, played by a mustached Chris Evans. He is the best of the worst killer for hire. He is given the contract to capture and kill six no holds barred; no expense spared.
And this - the 'no expense spared' part - shows. Throughout the movie, the sheer number of goons and the insane amount of firepower thrown at Sierra Six is simply unfathomably high.
Loyd has no moral boundaries, so he finds out Six’s weakness – a child who suffers from a serious heart disease and has a pacemaker. So she basically acts as a Human GPS, but that is not all in her character. She - Claire - is the niece of Six's recruiter Donald Fitzroy (played by Billy Bob Throton) and through a flashback scene we see the unexpected bond that Six and Claire share.
Loyd sends his armies to capture Six, and Six defeats him at all levels, ultimately the conflict culminating in a daring a mano-a-mano between the two. The good guy wins, the secrets are dealt with and the child is saved.
Plot-wise, this is it. Kinda straightforward if you discount the breadcrumbs Six has to follow and the allys and enemies he discovers in the process. But this movie is more about the conflict between Six and Hansen than anything else.
Right from the start, the action in #TheGrayMan is unlike any other movie that you may have seen earlier. The set pieces are unique and astoundingly brilliant. And complementing the stunt work with some stunning camera work is the cinematography by Steven F Windon.
The camera, it seems, is always moving in this film. Be it long takes, high altitude shots or incredible camera moves which bring a totally new dimension to the action and storytelling in this movie. You really have to watch it to appreciate it.
And this is one of those few movies which really feel like they deserve a large screen viewing for the theatre experience. The camera work on the action set pieces, like the one with the live fireworks, with the aeroplane and especially the one with the Tram - all really amazing works.
At times, in the middle of intense action, it does feel like the camera movements are a bit jarring...kind of reminding you of the shaky cam of the bourne identity. But that can be forgiven for the overall unparalleled cinematography
Then there are the firefights – bullets and explosions: I mean, rocket launchers are kind of normal nowadays, as far as over the top action flicks are concernced, but here there are machine guns of all manner, mounted and hand carried, tranquilizers, granades, and even a pepper spray! I mean this is kind of the most action any single movie has ever packed.
And to kick it all to another few notches, the movie does not shy away from one on one, absolutely breathtaking displays of martial arts. Somehow It works. It does not feel like just noise of faceless goons firing innumerable bullets and missing terribly.
The action has a clear progression, a beginning, a climax and a resolution. All that is not bogged down by unnecessary cheesiness. And yes, the protagonist is still grounded as human. I mean, the Hollywood movie hero type of human, but surely not an invincible, bulletproof superhero.
He survives with skill, with coincidence and with help.
In case of sierra Six, this help mostly comes in the form another CIA agent, Dani Miranda played by Ana de armas.
Unlike her brief role in No Time To Die, this time around, thankfully, Ana’s character is appropriately dressed for the stunts she is playing. And she is not playing a damsel in distress..no not at all. On the contrary, she holds her ground in the action and assists Six and more than once, saves his life.
Even with all these top-notch components of the movie, the one that I was most surprised by was the child actor Julia Butters playing the actual damsel in distress in the movie.
It was a welcome change to have the child actor in this action flick not portraying an angsty teenager and finding trouble while breaking the rules. Claire Fitzroy is a good child, having been dealt a shitty hand by life. She is sick and needs regular medical attention, and with that type of life comes a bitter precociousness that makes her, believably, act more of an adult than her age.
And the chemistry between six and Claire is endearing. Six doesn’t laugh often, not even when Claire is around, but there is a visible connection that the two end up sharing which means that six, understandably, will stop at nothing to save her.
Ryan Gosling’s Six has an aura and charisma that his character demands. He plays this part to perfection and with apparent ease. Although it is obvious how much work he has put into the physicality of this role. There is no over the top display of abs in the movie, but when a scene made it natural for the actor to take his shirt off, Ryan’s impeccable shape shows…as do the scars that add to the depth of the mystery of Sierra six.
Any discussion of the movie will not be complete without mentioning Dhanush, or Venkatesh Prabhu Kasthuri Raja. Dhanush plays a small but interesting and significant part of a mercenary employed by Loyd Hansen known as Lone Wolf.
He brings some insane stunts and masterful action pieces in the movie when it was just becoming overloaded with guns and explosions. Thankfully these fights are not in slow motion, nor involve a dozen goons flying around all at Dhanush’s single kick. But the brutal beating both Six and Dani get at the hands and feet of Lone Wolf is amazing.
Surprisingly, Lone Wolf does not share the fate of the regular mercenaries… and is still standing by the end of the conflict. Because it was clear that neither Six nor Dani, nor the two of them together were a match for Lone Wolf.
So overall, the gray man is a Netflix movie worthy of multiple viewings on giant screens, and an absolute testament to the unmatched movie making capability of the Russo Brothers. Music plays a good part in the narrative. Henry Jackman’s score is not entirely unique, and has flavours from other movie themes. But is well suited for the story that is on screen
7.5 / 10
Watch the video reivew on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Aco4WM-v09o