4 out of 5 stars
Since Avengers: Endgame, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have been flying under the radar with smaller productions and producing roles for Netflix. Until it was recently announced that they were the creative team behind the most expensive film on Netflix that stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land) and Chris Evans (Avengers: Endgame). The Gray Man is based on the novel by Mark Greaney, best known for his collaboration with Tom Clancy. With the anticipation for a new franchise in the making, it will be fascinating if this innovative combination will develop the next cinematic action hero.
Gosling introduces us to Court Gentry, Sierra Six, who is part of a selectively trained group within the CIA. Recruited while he was serving time for murder in prison by Donald ‘Fitz’ Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton). This bubble gum-chewing assassin would become one of the deadliest operatives in the agency. Until his handler retires and the new leadership wants to see these undercover killers eliminated. Especially before the Sierra agents expose some of the dirty dealings within the new agency. To assist in the eradication of these agents, Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) is brought in to handle things in his uniquely psychopathic manner.
Think of this new franchise as Jason Bourne with a sense of humour and enough financial backing to add some of the grandest effects seen on screens in ages. The Russos use every dollar of their $200M budget to deliver one of the best action films in years that is on par with the Daniel Craig alliteration of James Bond. Every action sequence is beautifully choreographed and serves a purpose in the overall delivery of this hard-hitting spectacle. Even though it does not contain any superheroes, these siblings know how to make their central character believable while possessing super-human abilities.
Beyond the action sequences, the element that rivals Bond and differentiates it from Bourne is the comedic writing. Ryan Gosling and the cast are given a fantastic script that allows the proper balance of dry wit stirred into the combative and unrelenting sequences. Gosling, Thornton and Evens are masters at delivering understated and timely lines that provide a short respite between each globetrotting scene. Along with Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), the whole cast seemed to enjoy every moment of the filming, even though it had to be an exhausting experience. The only knock on the film is that there was not enough time to allow each to develop their character, leaving the door wide open for potential sequels.
The Gray Man was an excellent introduction to a new action hero who was a combination of antihero and compassionate warrior. The Russo brothers found the right combination of witty banter, visual effects and combat to make audiences want to watch it again and desire more chapters in the future.
REEL DIALOGUE: Who can you trust?
In this world that has become increasingly interconnected, it has become less obvious who we can trust. Knowing who is the bearer of truth and justice. The government, schools and even churches have proven to be suspect regarding trust. Thankfully, there is one place where the truth can still be found. Not to sound cliched, but the Bible does provide answers to this question and more.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. - Psalm 37:5