I know it’s a been a week, but I finally got around to watching Anthony and Joe Russo’s the Grey Man. The action / comedy stars Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas and Chris Evans playing mercenaries and spies hunting down dark secrets.
I won’t lie when I say I didn’t know this film was happening until it came out. There was no hype, no marketing and no promotion by Netflix. So when it was finally released I was excited to see it. In my head, the film would be similar in style and action to Captain American: the Winter Soldier – an excellent film. But I could not have been more wrong and truthfully, I am still trying to figure out why…
I’m sure in the Russo’s heads the action sequences were cool, but it never felt like there was never any weight or danger to them. What I love about Civil War and the Winter Soldier is those close hand to hand fight scenes. In this film, there is one towards the end that is solid, but the rest are not even on the same level. There is too much focus on big scale expensive sequences rather than the John Wick action we have come to love. Even if you set the action scenes in exotic locations, the choreography still has to be entertaining to watch. In the Grey Man, it simply isn’t.
Ryan Gosling is severely under-utilised in this movie. He is one of the best actors working today and is given absolutely nothing to work with. There is no dramatic moments for him to sink into and barely any comedy – two things Ryan Gosling is very very good at. Just look at his character in the Nice Guys and Drive. I just do not understand why the script is not more targeted for an actor with his skill and expertise. Nevertheless, he does feel dangerous. His stature and body are effective in showing that this man is a killer. I just wish there was more for him to work with.
Chris Evans is excellent in this movie. He is absolutely going for it and I am 100% here to watch. This movie made me realise how much I miss Chris Evans playing a douchebag and I am glad he is returning to his old form. On the other hand, Ana De Armas was not working. I don’t think it’s her fault, it’s just her character is very one dimensional and flat. She doesn’t really have a personality or even an arc. Once again, a very talented actor wasted.
Julia Butters. Wow, what an actress. Most kids in movies are extremely annoying and trying too hard to be funny but, in this film, she feels like a real kid. Julia does a great job at reacting authentically to the big set pieces around her. Also, she is funny without forcing it.
I don’t ever dive into the cinematography for films unless it’s really good or really bad. The Grey Man’s photography just doesn’t make sense. They have chosen to use drones for what feels like 80% of this movie and it never works. It’s disorientating and weird. On top of this, it completely takes you out of the movie. It’s like whenever films use GoPro footage in movies. For some reason, it just makes the audience disconnect from the world they are watching. I just cannot comprehend who thought this was a good idea.
Ultimately, The Grey Man doesn’t work for one core reason – a poor script. Everything surrounding this film is solid but when the script isn’t there, the movie is never going to be anything. There is no substance or genuine emotion to any of the characters in this movie. We learn a tiny bit about Six but not enough to care about him or the people around him. They just needed to dive into this character more and I would’ve been there. Even the side characters have literally no backstory except that they went to Harvard. The heart of this film is so clearly missing and I don’t know how the Russo’s didn’t see that.
On top of this, this film is tonally all over the place. We have characters being serious for half the film, then at the end they are all suddenly comedians. Modern blockbusters are obsessed with being funny and it’s getting more and more draining. Just write funny characters and serious ones. NOT EVERYONE HAS TO BE FUNNY IN A FILM.
At the end of the day, this film is fucking stacked. Great directors, incredible cast, solid soundtrack and it was released on the biggest streaming platform in the world. Everything is there but due to a weak script, it is just kind of boring. The whole film is dull. Despite an A level roster, I was never really interested in the world the Russo’s create and don’t want to see more of it.
SHOULD YOU WATCH THE GREY MAN?
I almost never say this but you can definitely give this one a miss. While the action was solid, it was never enough to really make me care for this film in any way.