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'The Gray Man' Review: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans & Others Play Spy Games In Russo Brothers Thriller

Ryan Gosling sitting in a chair at a club

What do you call a man who works in the gray area? Even that question might have too much nuance considering that we're talking about Russo brothers' (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo) newest globe-trotting spy action thriller The Gray Man, adapted by the latter, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely from a novel bearing the same name. In the film, a feared CIA mercenary Court ''Six'' Gentry (Ryan Gosling) is assigned by his handler Mr. Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) to protect him and his young daughter Claire (Julia Butters), leading Six to discover dangerous agency secrets. With this information, Six now becomes a target of several CIA assassins led by psychopath Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) and their supervisor Mr. Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page). Six himself finds help from a fellow spy Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas).

As composer Henry Jackman's doomsday sounds invite you into the story, you might quickly realise that you won't find all that much invention or original take in the movie. However, where you might find more enjoyment is the cast's performance whether that's Gosling's cool calm and collected approach to Six, de Armas' action scenes that are yet another reminder that maybe she should be leading these movies from here on out, or Evans' deranged, highly entertaining showboating that brings much needed levity. In terms of how those actors are being brought into the fold, there are an abundance of location cards which luckily take a backseat after the first act but there is also terrific work done by the sound team to make those transitions less jarring and scenes more claustrophobic.

When taking a look at the genres that Russo brothers and writers are riffing on, The Gray Man succeeds much more with its action than with its thrills. In perfect sync with sound, stunt team also crafts mostly exciting and well-planned sequences—only faltering a little when relying on the ''American way'', which is gun fights—as different vehicles, weapons, room and crowd sizes are used for variety, also scaling down things in the final confrontation for some stakes. DoP Stephen F. Windon and editors Jeff Groth and Pietro Scalia are also helpful in that regard by using multiple shot sizes while always coming back enough to wides.

On the other side, tension and thrills would need more investment in the characters than just an easy solution like putting an innocent child in danger. That type of writing is also why it's hard to see this as a mega-budget franchise starter that it was planned to be; committed cast and crew can save underwritten characters only once.

Smileys: Sound editing, Chris Evans, stunt choreography

Frowneys: Originality, screenplay

She's a ten but he's Six because 007 was taken.


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