They say money can’t buy happiness, and it certainly can’t buy a decent movie. “The Gray Man,” a bloated, unremarkable action thriller from the Russo Brothers, makes a colossal waste of its massive $200 million budget. Here we go again with another substandard Netflix film that seems to take pride in its display of stunning mediocrity.
In what feels like a poor man’s Bourne, the film (based on the 2009 novel by Mark Greaney.) tells the story of a network of former criminals trained by the CIA. When their top asset Six (Ryan Gosling) uncovers the darkest secrets that lie within the Agency, he triggers a global hunt by a group of nameless assassins. With mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) hot on his trail, Six traverses the globe on a dangerous mission.
This is a by-the-numbers spy movie, with unsurprising plot devices that are at best too formulaic and at worst, defy all logic. The film further suffers from irritating, fast cutting and weirdly abrupt scene transitions that are startling and make no sense. An abundance of drone shots is a lazy directorial choice, and the dizzying, swooping bits are unpleasant and downright ugly. Tack on a PG-13 rating with bloodless violence and lackluster fight choreography, and even the action is lame.
So where did that astronomical $200 million budget go?
A good chunk of that money had to go towards hiring A-list actors. A movie with a cast as strong as this needs to be better. Gosling is good enough in the lead role, but Evans is grossly miscast. Instead of giving us a devilishly delicious bad guy, his performance is an exaggerated lampoon. This just goes to show you that megawatt star power doesn’t necessarily equate to enjoyable entertainment.
Another large portion of the budget must’ve been dedicated solely to the pyrotechnics department. The film has very little substance, unless you like fiery blasts. It starts with a wave of explosions and never lets up. I think something blows up approximately every 3.6 minutes. I’m kidding (I think), but it sure feels that way.
In a final flash of its middle finger to the audience, “The Gray Man” bows out with a finale that makes you feel like you wasted your time watching it (well, in fact, you did). It’s a dumb ending to a dumb movie, and this one fails at every turn.