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Movie Review: Ryan Gosling Excels in the Spy/Thriller ‘The Gray Man’

By Arpit Nayak | Columnist 

Action is among the most loved genres of film. With time, the definition of action has changed, and with technology, it has become more exciting and visually stunning. Many filmmakers have successfully made those films. The recently-released film “The Gray Man” on Netflix is another addition to the genre.

The story takes place in Bangkok, where we see a man named Six (Ryan Gosling) on a mission to get the job done for the CIA. He finishes the task, gets into a situation that changes his equation with the CIA, and is now on his own out trying to do right. 

We know that Six has been recruited out of prison for the CIA program ‘Sierra Six’ also known as a ‘Gray Man’ — a renounced agent used to bring down enemies of the State, which the CIA can’t officially dispatch. He gets recruited by Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), who is now replaced by brash Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page), who has to get things done. Feeling threatened by Six’ actions, he hires Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a private sector mercenary and sociopath who has a network of other assistants to hire who use violence to eliminate their targets. Six meets fellow co-agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) while trying to fight Lloyd and his associates. As the story moves, the trouble Six finds gets bigger and bigger. Can he survive when all is against him? Can he accomplish this mission for him or not? The answers lie in this action-packed drama.

Written by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Greaney. Speaking on the script, the writers have given their fresh take by keeping the storyline tight. One of the things we have seen in Russo Brothers’ films is that the villain is born out of circumstance. While the story changes, they follow the same pattern here. 

The story could have been many things, but it’s something that the audience has seen before. We see one smart guy against the whole system, trying to fight for the right. The screenplay offers nothing that one cannot predict; the audience knows how things will ultimately fall. The element of suspense or twists could have made the narrative more interesting if they had been added. One of the things the writers deserve credit for is the introduction of pivotal characters, which brings out the needed interest and hype the characters deserve.

The direction of the film by the Russo Brothers sets the bar higher for action films; the action sequences are impressive with minimal CGI. It’s tough to put such a big cast in the movie and direct them the way they did. The film travels from one country to another, and the sequences don’t fall away with the story. The cinematography by Stephen F. Windon is flawless in capturing each frame perfectly. Additionally, the music by Henry Jackman sets an exemplary tone for the story.

Ryan Gosling is phenomenal as Six. We have seen him doing action before, but in this film, he owns each frame he is in. He gets under the skin of this character, from the physical transformation to the sharpness of the role. He is a delight in this film. Chris Evens equally does well in his part as Lloyd. He perfectly brings out the smugness and craziness in this role. Indian actor Dhanush as a lone wolf is a delight to watch. He has a small part compared to others, but he leaves a lasting impression in the viewer’s mind. From his entry to the end, he is pitch perfect, bringing out the arc of his role with his quietness and gritty expression. His action sequences are a pleasure to see. In their supporting roles, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, and Regé-Jean Page do a perfect job.

“The Gray Man” is predictable, yet it is something one should not miss. It has an exquisite blend of action and thrill that viewers will enjoy. It’s a treat for fans of action films. It has an excellent starring cast which shines in the film. If you’re looking for action on streaming, it’s definitely something you should see.


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