The Gray Man, from a first glance basis, looks like everything Red Notice or Without Remorse tried to be and failed. In execution…..it’s exactly like those movies, only except the part where it tries to be better. Again, I’m baffled at how much money Netflix throws at monotony while letting most of their good stuff wither and die.
Between a hackneyed production design that relies heavily on cheap visuals, tacky drone shots, embarrassing use of green screen for the overly digitised environments and inconsistent lighting apparently lit by a color-blind stoner intern from the local lighting emporium, this movie does not look good technically. Even with the occasional cool looking sweeping and establishing shots, this Jason Bourne style of cinematography and editing comes off gimmicky, repetitive and physically draining with each frame; it’s like someone from the 1980’s with ADHD replaced the camera operator using the Power Glove.
I don’t know whether to consider the dialogue trivial, prosaic, vanilla or a combination of the three but it clearly isn’t all that good. Characters are empty cliched ciphers even with passable acting from all fronts, the film never takes time to explore the duality between the main leads and use it to their advantage, pacing is wildly unbalanced, action sequences are distracting, all the music is unmemorable, costumes do nothing, and yes, while there’s nothing wrong with a simple action movie focused on moving from point A to B quickly, the very least you can do is try harder to not stultify or bore me out of caring the first chance you get. When it wasn’t boring me to tears, I was constantly splashed in the face with motion sickness.
I only wish the bloody plot wasn’t as jarring as the rest of the movie.
One of the crucial fine arts in scriptwriting is to build up characters and a story and build them around the other. If you don't know why certain things happen, any and all surprises and zigzags of the plot loses a lot of potential and you lose interest pretty quickly. Rushing from place to place after opening with a colorful killing in Bangkok adds little to get us into the plot and the lack of any subsequent tension to the on-going situation only exposes the hodgepodge foundation less than half an hour in; nothing flows together with any anchored cohesion. And even if it did, haven’t we seen this movie half a million times before; they’re hardly even trying with these stories anymore.
Not only is the plot not trying to be different but it honestly feels like it’s actively going out of its way to confuse its audience and annoy them as much as possible; like they’re so desperately afraid we’re going to lose interest, they gotta throw up all this pizzaz over the screen. It honestly comes off like the Russo’s forgot to do their homework and asked a copy from their neighbors and then proceed to make it friggin’ obvious!
Whether it be at 200 Million dollars or just 20 dollars a pop, it’s not only clear Netflix’s grubby fingerprints were all over this production but the Russo’s are looking more and more atypical with each new release. This is AVA levels of embarrassing; remember how bad that was?!