The Gray Man review – Ryan Gosling goes rogue in gonzo action thriller | Movies

Two solid hours of efficient Netflix content is what’s on offer here, the action-thriller equivalent of a conscientiously microwaved Tuscan Sausage Penne from M&S. Directed by the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, this has Ryan Gosling playing a CIA assassin recruited from prison for a top-secret black ops unit, one of a team of “gray men” operating in the murky shadows; he is known only by his codename Sierra Six (the other choices presumably being Cortina Six, Focus Six and Fiesta Six).

Sierra goes rogue when he discovers his own employers are up to no good, the evidence being a data chip in a medallion on the body of one of his victims: a very cursory MacGuffin whose exact significance is never really spelled out. So the Agency ruthlessly sends a psychopathic freak and torture enthusiast out to silence him: one Lloyd Hansen, played in smirking bad-guy mode by Chris Evans with creepy mustache and knitwear. Ana de Armas does her best with the role of Ryan’s agent-slash-wingwoman Dani, who kicks as much ass as him. The dodgy CIA commander is played by Regé-Jean Page, but Sierra’s old boss Fitzroy is a straight-up good guy, played by Billy Bob Thornton; Fitzroy has a fatherly concern for Sierra, because he once asked him to look after his young niece Claire, played by 13-year-old Julia Butters in a bland and improbably cutesy role. She is quite unrecognisable from her glorious turn as the precocious child actor in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, who reduces Leonardo DiCaprio’s has-been cowboy star to tears of joy by praising his performance.

The movie zooms manically from exotic industry-tax-break location to exotic industry-tax-break location, each announced on screen in huge sans serif capital letters (VIENNA, PRAGUE, BAKU). There’s plenty of gonzo action but no heart and no real dramatic voltage.

The Gray Man is released on 15 July in cinemas in the US and UK, and on 22 July on Netflix.

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