Run Time: 130 Mins
What To Expect: An unremarkable, average film that is too long, with no plot
I looked at the budget for this movie after watching it. It says it cost $200 million, produced by Netflix, their most expensive project to date. I couldn’t see where that money went to on screen, even with two big names like Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans leading the show, since the movie relies heavily on computerized chaos. Maybe it’s a result of this inflation business… but at any rate, one of this year’s big action movies is a bit dull and hollow.
An adaptation of Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man novels, this show sees lowlife-with-a-heart ‘Sierra Six’ (Ryan Gosling) offered a chance to have his prison sentence commuted if he agrees to go and do some killin’ for the CIA. Agent Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) will be his mentor. The movie then cuts to ‘eighteen years later’, when ‘Six’ starts to question whether or not the people he’s being ordered to kill are actually baddies. That’s a long time for a man to pick up on cues, but the movie isn’t interested in going in-depth. Well, the establishment can’t have that, and the hit is put out on Gosling. They send smug asshat Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to get the job done, while ‘good’ agent Dani Miranda (Anna de Armas!) goes rogue and helps the hero.
This movie is two hours and ten minutes long, but is impersonal and bereft of any story. You can get away with that with shorter movies that know when to leave the stage, for instance there’s many a Scott Adkins movie hovering over the 85 minute mark, with 1/10th the budget that is better than this. Directed by the Russo Brothers of MCU fame, they dispense with any narrative and instead give us a patchwork of action scenes linked together with sarcastic jibes from both Gosling and Evans.
And so the movie’s health relies on its action scenes. Some are good, some are boring. I mean, there are great visuals here and I celebrated the death of shaking cameras/hyper editing, since the Russos are keen to show us who is hitting who etc. There are good fight scenes and visual character, however some of it goes over the top, straying into Avengers exhaustion territory. I don’t like CGI chaos, where an A-lister is dancing a jig in front of a green screen – I tend to disassociate from shit that gets too excitable. Happens a lot in this movie. It’s not bad, really, but it gets tiresome. It needed to be shorter, with a bit more restraint.
By the way, I always find it funny with these ‘former agent hunted by the establishment’ movies that they feel the need to put in a disclaimer that it’s just ‘rogue elements’ of the CIA, and that in the end, the government really are the good guys. No. They really fucking are not.