At $200 million, “The Gray Man” rates as Netflix’s most expensive movie yet.
What that bullion bought is a spectacular series of incredible “Can you top this!” action scenes that never stop coming, each more elaborate and explosive.
All this mayhem is to jumpstart a hoped-for franchise with Ryan Gosling as dark arts CIA op Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six, in a role once intended for Brad Pitt.
Under the aegis of the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, “The Gray Man” is based on Mark Greaney’s debut novel, published in 2009. Court Gentry has spawned his own franchise with eight sequels now ready for their close-ups.
Greaney is also known for co-writing Tom Clancy’s final three novels before the Jack Ryan creator died in 2013. Since then he’s written four more Jack Ryan novels.
‘The Gray Man’ stars Ryan Gosling as Six. (© 2022 Netflix, Inc.)
Hollywood first attempted a film version of “Gray Man” in 2011 with the critically appreciated James Gray (“Two Lovers”) directing and Brad Pitt as Gentry. By 2015 they were gone and Charlize Theron was considered in a gender-switched take with a Russo brothers script.
Five years later the Russos were directing a script credited to Joe Russo and two others that dispenses with the novel’s plot and pits Court Gentry against Lloyd Hansen, an ex-CIA assassin and violent sociopath, played with a winning exuberance and unhinged malevolence by Chris Evans.
Gentry may be a killer but he has standards and when he declines to kill his target because a small boy would be collateral damage, he freaks out his superior who, of course, has not so hidden motives. As the action moves from Bangkok to Vienna, Prague and Croatia, hundreds of bodies, many fleets of cars, buses, trucks and several choppers meet their makers. Think James Bond meets Vin Diesel’s Prague-set “XXX.”
While Gentry is on the run and like the famous battery that keeps on going, he’s assisted by Ana De Armas’s fellow CIA operative Dani. The Cuban actress, a highlight of Daniel Craig’s final 007 film as kick-butt CIA agent Paloma, is the equal of every man she meets — and kills.
As yet another CIA agent, here is “Bridgerton” break-out star Regé-Jean Page. Also among the “Gray Man” cast are two veterans who are essential CIA comrades to Gentry’s ability to stay alive: Alfre Woodard and Billy Bob Thornton.
“The Gray Man” begins a one-week theatrical run Friday before streaming on Netflix the following week.