The Gray Man (2022): wall-to-wall action does not a story make

I’m not going to say a lot about this movie, as it really doesn’t deserve my time or my words. You can take from that what you will, but it’s basically throwaway popcorn fodder, and not in the best way. Even smashy action movies need something — anything — for us to hang onto in terms of character, plot and story. And if I’m honest, I’m not even sure The Gray Man does the bare minimum, in that respect.

What you have in Ryan Gosling as a sort of Jason Bourne superspy figure, one who barely says a thing throughout the entire film. You’ve got Chris Evans as ‘the mad antagonist’ because of… reasons. And Ana de Armas is around, I guess so it’s not just two dudes for the entire film, but she doesn’t have much to do.

This film was directed by the Russo brothers (of Marvel fame), and the plot is a paper thin excuse to go from action set piece, to action set piece. I read that the budget for this was, hold your breath, $200m. To me, that’s insane, and does, in a way, prove that you cannot just buy your way to success by blowing things up on screen. Surprise surprise, you need actual characters we care about, and some sort of story that intrigues and delights us. I cannot put my hand on my heart and say The Gray Man had those things.

This film so badly wants to be Mission Impossible, or a Bond movie. Except it isn’t, and it cannot be, unless it actually slows down for two seconds with action and focuses on character. It currently sits at 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that’s a fair grade.

I give it a low 3/5 stars.

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