Adapted from the novel of the same name by Mark Greane, “The Gray Man” multiplies the stunts and explosions, but does not reinvent the genre, far from it.
It is now a trick to take: summer blockbusters will no longer necessarily be released in theaters. With its colossal budget (200 million dollars), its stellar cast, its two artificers at the helm, and its action scenes defying understanding, The Gray Man seemed calibrated to be the unifying event of this scorching summer, likely to fill the air-conditioned rooms. However, it is in the partially ventilated living rooms of some 10 million French Netflix subscribers that the film will make its hexagonal career. A new big decision for the streaming giant, which we know is losing momentum.
Four years after his astral performance in first-manand while waiting to find it under the silky features of Ken in the intriguing Barbie, the now discreet Ryan Gosling signs a muscular return in a tailor-made role: that of a phlegmatic spy, a repentant criminal who has become a hitman for the CIA, but above all an elite brawler and multi-death cheat. -recidivist, who would pass off James Bond for an accountant, and John McClane for a public highway agent. It’s because the Russo brothers, great orderlies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, did not skimp on the means to deliver this spy film on steroids, which investigates implausible action scenes with the parsimony of a bulldozer propelled by a fusion reactor.
Europe Tour of Explosions
the Gray Man of the title, it is 6 (Ryan Gosling therefore): anonymous agent who accomplishes the dirty work of the CIA in exchange for a reduction in his prison sentence. But after years of good and loyal service (and quite a few deleted targets) the intelligence agency begins to consider its professional killer a bit cumbersome, and decides to liquidate him.
As 6 has proven himself to be the indestructible type, the evil boss of the CIA hires another killer, of the psychopathic type, to eliminate him (Chris Evans, who trades in his hood of Captain America for the regulation mustache of the wicked villain). Supported by his former boss, retired from the CIA (the always delicious Billy Bob Thornton) and an agent playing on both counts (Ana de Armas, james bond girl of a new genre), 6 will have to thwart the plans of his mustachioed counterpart in an explosive manhunt across the world, where supposedly clandestine missions will transform a handful of European cities into battlefields.
A grueling action hero
From this extremely common scenario, as if laid by a random generator of action films, the Russo brothers do not get much, if not a grueling roller coaster, stuffed with excessive action scenes which, by their juxtaposition, usually become spectacular, not to say spectacularly ordinary. Like two kids given an unlimited budget to rob a toy store, the filmmakers give free rein to their pyrotechnic fantasies without worrying about staging. From chases to shootouts, from Bangkok to Prague, we follow the CGI-doped stunts of the characters facing death in high-flying scenes that paradoxically lack vertigo.
There was, however, room for Gray Man a action hero refreshing, regenerating a certain idea of the action cinema of the 1980s, and Ryan Gosling, perfect as a silent hitman with an elusive pout, was in the mood for the job. Alas, its rehashed script, its indigestible action scenes and its sometimes frankly inept dialogues make it at best an ersatz of james bond movieand lazy.
The Gray Man should nevertheless find its audience, especially in these scorching times that are quick to melt neurons, and will act as a test for Netflix, whose intention to make it a franchise is easily guessed.
The Gray Man by Joe and Anthony Russo, with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas… Available on Netflix