by Jess Hagy
After Avengers: Endgame, Joe and Anthony Russo tried their hands at drama with AppleTV’s Cherry starring Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland. That film was not met with the greatest reviews, receiving a 37% of 206 critics on Rotten Tomatoes. With Netflix’s new spy thriller, The Gray Man, the Russos return to what they do best which is huge action set pieces and car chases with a sprinkle of comedy to show they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. And of course this new film heavily features Mr. Captain America (and the best Chris), Chris Evans. Evans plays a very un-Captain America-esque character with a disgusting mustache and very tight pants. The casting of Evans as the villainous psychopath is always interesting because he has a natural charisma. With this role in particular, his playfulness fits. It made it so that his character had fun causing harm and saw it all as a game as opposed to having high stakes in everyone’s lives. Evans playfulness paired and countered Ryan Gosling’s dry humor very well.
Gosling (Baby Goose, if you will) leads this wild ride of a movie as a CIA Black Ops mercenary who has to go on the run after discovering a flash drive with incriminating secrets of the agency. It is pretty much the plot of every spy thriller (complete with non-developed female characters), but what this film lacks in story (and women being pushed to side) it makes up for in action. A regular action film has on average three or four action sequences. The Gray Man has a whopping nine, from car chases to running on top of a train to Gosling fighting a man in the sky for his parachute.
What makes the action sequences in the Russo’s films so entertaining and successful is the use of comedy as well as reality woven through the excitement. There are beats of bullet-less guns being thrown and tranquilizers hitting people in their rear-ends, adding situational comedy and charm. These moments are never overdone or feel out of place within the story or characters. It even humanizes them and the circumstances. The performers also seem to be enjoying themselves with ad-libbed conversations and improvised lines (my favorite being delivered by Evans that had me laughing for possibly the next 10 minutes of the film).
Even though this felt just like every other spy movie with some ignorant and lazy villains, it is fun, enjoyable, and fast-paced. They leave it in a way that could lead to sequels (it’s based off a book series by Mark Greaney), but they also ended it in a way that could close up these characters’ story and have it stand on its own.
Also, it would be interesting to see what great music the Russos use in the following films’ fight scenes because this soundtrack was marvelous…