How much would you pay to see Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans run around shooting pistols at each other for two hours? $10? $20? Well, for one ailing streaming service, USD$200 million was the final figure and it might have been a little too much. The initial reviews are suggesting Netflix‘s big-budget action blockbuster The Gray Man is as bland as the colour for which it is named. Oh, dear.
Originally touted as the answer to Netflix’s dwindling subscriber numbers, The Gray Man has all the hallmarks of a bonafide hit – Two massive Hollywood stars, the directing duo behind a Marvel smash and an endless cavalcade of shootouts. It should be the recipe for success (keep in mind Chris Hemsworth sent streams sky-high with his light-on-plot, heavy-on-action flick Extraction back in 2019).
But sadly, while fans have been champing at the bit for another bruising encounter with Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling, critics have not been kind. The film has only received a lukewarm 49 per cent approval rating from 59 critics on Rotten Tomatoes (at the time of writing). So where did The Gray Man go wrong?
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers that brought us Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, the new film stars Gosling as Court Genry AKA Sierra Six – a CIA operative who uncovers a dark secret. From there, he finds himself in a brutal cat and mouse game, hunted by former CIA colleague Lloyd Hansen, played by Chris Evans, who will stop at nothing to destroy Six.
With an enviable cast and a reported USD$200 million budget, expectations were seriously high for the streamer’s new flick, but it hasn’t entirely translated to success. Film critic Robbie Collin from The Telegraph gave the film just two stars, claiming “Netflix squanders millions on an action film that’s more bland than Bond”.
Collin’s sentiments were echoed by The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw, who described The Gray Man as “the action-thriller equivalent of a conscientiously microwaved Tuscan Sausage Penne from M&S.”
According to Bradshaw, where The Gray Man falls down is simply in its execution. The critic noted that while there was plenty of drama, the film lacked heart, jumping frantically between exotic locations.
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s worth pointing out that we actually haven’t seen the film yet, so it’s hard to tell if Collin and Bradshaw were just having a bad day (no Maltesers at the candy bar, no doubt), but if there’s one review we generally reserve our judgements for – it’s Roger Ebert‘s. Needless to say, the film critic extraordinaire did not disappoint.
“The Gray Man should be joyously over-the-top if it wants to be a new Fast & Furious or Bourne franchise but with the exception of a wisecracking Evans, everything here feels so programmatically dull. It’s a silly piece of popcorn entertainment that too often forgets that this kind of venture needs to be fun.
For fans of needless action films, the reviews aren’t exactly enlightening, but that probably won’t stop us from watching it. Oh well, at least Gosling’s watch is cool.