With the hype over the Russo Brothers’ action thriller for Netflix, “The Gray Man”, building up in the days leading to the $200-million film’s July 22 release on the streaming platform, western critics who have been able to see it during its limited theatrical release aren’t very impressed.
A glance at the Top Critics section of Rotten Tomatoes, the online aggregator of film reviews, indicates that although the film is being compared with Tom Cruise’s money machine, “Top Gun Maverick” (cruising at $610 million domestically and showing no signs of a descent), and even the Matt Damon superhit, “Bourne Identity”, its mind-numbing action has left critics, well, numb. And like miserly professors, they refuse to give it good grades (read ratings).
For an online streaming platform that is struggling to retain subscribers, will “The Gray Man” turn out to be a dud? If you are the kind who follows reviews and then decides whether to watch a film, it certainly will.
“A picture that tries desperately to be an over-the-top ‘Mission: Impossible’ adventure only to end up in a no-man’s land of inconsequence,” is the verdict of Stephanie Zecharek of TIME Magazine.
Comments Brian Lowry of CNN.com: “The spy-versus-spy shenanigans play like an excuse for the elaborate action sequences and insane stunt work, which produce a few genuine highlights but also yield gradually diminishing returns, especially down the home stretch.”
“The Gray Man”, based on Mark Greaney 2009 novel of the same name, is all about Ryan Gosling’s character, the CIA’s most skilled mercenary known as Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six, who uncovers dark agency secrets and ends up becoming an assassination target himself.
Gentry is pursued around the world by his psychopathic ex-colleague Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) and a band of international assassins, including Avik San, played by Tamil superstar Dhanush, who, incidentally, may be able to garner eyeballs — a lot of them — in India. But will these be enough to bail out the movie?
Leah Greenblatt of ‘Entertainment Weekly’ certainly doesn’t think so. “It’s red-meat candy, a ‘Bourne Identity’ for brains thoroughly trained in over-stimulation, and already long gone on summer holiday,” she says, giving the film a B-. Ouch!
David Sexton of ‘New Statesman’ is equally dismissive. He declares: “The experience of watching it is to be aware at every moment that what you are facing is a carefully calculated, wholly corporate product, entirely predictable and devoid of any authorship or originality.”
“It is a thriller made by people who know what great thrillers can do, but without the ability to make one themselves,” says Barry Hertz of the ‘Globe and Mail’. Giving it a 2/5, Robbie Collins of ‘Daily Telegraph’ notes: “Around halfway through a sustained shootout in Prague, the sheer thundering mindlessness of the whole enterprise becomes impossible to ignore.”
And finally, David Fear of ‘Rolling Stone’ says “The Gray Man” “wants to remind you of what an old-school dopamine dump these types of entertainments are, and it has what seems to be the necessary ingredients to do it. Which, to be honest, only makes you wish this was tighter, tauter, tougher, better.”
Will viewers listen to the critics, or will “The Gray Man” be one of those films that are critically panned, but are commercially super-successful? As they say, only time will tell.