Netflix has embarked on its most expensive and ambitious film premiere on the platform to date. The Gray Man, based on a book by the same name, comes in at a record-breaking budget. The question everyone is asking is, was it worth the price tag? With names like the Russo brothers, Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas, you come with some expectations. We had a chance to screen it on the big screen ahead of the premiere, check out our thoughts below.
The Gray Man is CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), aka, Sierra Six. Plucked from a federal penitentiary and recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), Gentry was once a highly-skilled, Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. But now the tables have turned and Six is the target, hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA, who will stop at nothing to take him out. Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) has his back. He’ll need it.
The Russo brother’s name comes with a high price tag as does this cast. At $200 million, the budget for The Gray Man comes in as Netflix’s most expensive film yet. The film is based on the book of the same name by Mark Greaney. At just over 2 hours long the film starts hitting the ground running right from the start. The story is pretty familiar and not all that original in the world of spy and action films. However, that doesn’t mean it was boring. Part bond, part Bourne, Gosling’s Sierra Six proves to be good at what he does, both the character as a spy and Gosling as the actor.
Billy Bob Thorton plays his handler and is more or less a father figure to him. Evans character is a douchy asshole, with a “trash stash” as Gentry calls it, and he plays it well. It is sometimes hard to think of Evans as a bad guy. Knives Out was one of the more recent examples that came to mind for me. Something about the way he plays the arrogant, douchy characters just works so well. Ana de Armas also brings a strong performance as a fellow spy who has Gentry’s back as he tries to figure out the truth. She recently had a role in the last Bond film, along side Craig, and a lead role in Knives Out, which Evans was also in. If I had any gripe on the story, it was the back story of Gosling’s character. Frankly, it was a little weak but it’s not a major plot point.
So let’s get to the meat of the budget, that mid-film battle royale in Prague. There came a point during this nearly 30 min scene that had me wondering at what point it seemed over the top. Clearly, the budget was spent here, with the train, the square, all the shooting, and the use of drones for many of the scenes. There were moments that leave you squeezing the seat just a bit as you wait to see how much collateral damage they can take.
As the film closes out, our two leading characters finally get their face-off, and that too doesn’t disappoint. We won’t spoil what happens, but needless to say, neither go quietly. Netflix’s opened the film in select theaters on the 15th of July, but will be dropping the film on the platform on the 22nd. Overall the film was a classic throwback to action/spy films that reminds me of the benefit of a back-to-basics approach with some films that helped Top Gun: Maverick be successful. If you are a fan of the Bond films, Bourne franchise, or classics like Clear and Present Danger, you should check out The Gray Man on Netflix.