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Ryan Gosling plays a CIA operative in a still from Netflix movie The Gray Man. Photo: Netflix.

Review | Netflix movie review: The Gray Man – Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling in entertaining action thriller from Avengers: Endgame directors

  • The Russo brothers, who have directed two of the biggest films ever, are back with a new thriller, The Gray Man
  • Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas all seem to have fun in this James Bond-like action movie

3.5/5 stars

Since Anthony and Joe Russo directed Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, two of the five highest grossing films of all time, they’ve been relatively quiet. Cherry, with Tom Holland, was a feature for Apple TV+ in the early days of that streaming platform; beyond that, they’ve stuck to producing.

But with The Gray Man, a brash, entertaining, all-star thriller based on a book by Mark Greaney, the siblings are back with big-screen spectacle – albeit viewers will see it on a small screen, it being for Netflix.

Ryan Gosling stars as Court Gentry, a CIA black ops spy and a former jailbird who is recruited by Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) for an operation.

Gentry, a highly skilled operative known as Sierra Six, is in the field when he discovers that his boss, Denny Carmichael (Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page), is far from serving his country’s best interests.

On the run across Europe, with evidence in his pocket, he is pursued by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a psychopathic private contractor sent by Carmichael. His only ally on the ground is Ana de Armas’ capable agent Dani.

Ana de Armas as agent Dani in a still from The Gray Man. Photo: Netflix

While Sierra Six may appear emotionless he has connections to Fitzroy, whose niece he looked after and bonded with during a stint in Hong Kong. And so when Lloyd kidnaps her, the whole mission gets personal.

Having said that, whatever motivation he’s been given by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who worked with the Russos on the Avengers movies) is secondary to the film’s explosive set pieces. A stunning fight sequence in a plane hold sets the tone, followed later by a gripping shoot-out as Gosling’s character comes under fire.

Chris Evans as the psychopathic Lloyd Hansen in a still from The Gray Man. Photo: Paul Abell/Netflix
Performance-wise, de Armas continues her hot streak (with a part that feels like the fleshed-out version of the agent she played in James Bond movie No Time to Die). Evans, sporting a “trash ’tache” as Fitzroy calls his terrible facial hair, revels in playing the opposite to his upstanding Avengers character Captain America.
Gosling, meanwhile, brings just the right amount of dry humour to the role; he hasn’t been this laid-back since playing the wheelman in Drive.
With relentless pacing and glamorous locales, there is a Bond-like quality to The Gray Man, although the Russos’ tendency to lean heavily on CGI detracts slightly. Still, with the A-list cast all having a blast, it feels a step up from other Netflix blockbusters like Red Notice.

With eight further Gray Man novels in existence, this could be the beginning of a long-running series.

The Gray Man will start streaming on Netflix on July 22.

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