I tend to agree with the people on Rotten Tomatoes, rather than the critics. The rating of the audience is usually based on a more emotional place. It’s often more truthful and common-sense-based. However, “The Gray Man” is currently rated at 50 by the critics, and 90 by the audience and, I have to say, I gotta go with the critics on this one. Although it is possible that they have very different motives.
Here’s why: I’ve read the 2009 book the movie is based on by Mark Greaney, including the 10 other books in the series. It is a masterpiece of writing. Mark Greaney, the #1 NYT best-selling author and coauthor on seven Tom Clancy novels is a shining example of this. This should be enough to tell you something. Court Gentry, Greaney’s CIA Agent is the only one who can out-Bourne Jason Bourne. He is a top-ranking spy.
“The Gray Man” ought to have been rugged, gritty and dark movie about hard men. It should feature top-quality martial arts butt-kicking, virtuososniping, real violence, magic-act level showcasing spy tradecraft sleight of hand, as well as joint operations that involved elite military-bearded, tough-guys. These things should all have been built on the same foundation of patriotism as “quiet professionals”, who do only these types of jobs. Because that is Who The Gray Man–Court Gentry –really is.
And what are we left with? How did Hollywood come up with this idea? Let me try to summarize it succinctly. Denny Carmichael is an older, white male who serves as the CIA’s head honcho for the books. That’s what it means. That is what the Wokeverse cannot have. “Down with patriarchy!” “Down with the patriarchy!” Carmichael is here depicted as a young black man who, according to Harvard, was having a homosexual affair.
The dialogue between the above-mentioned characters would have to be described as snide. There’s also a gratuitous shot showing a rainbow-colored bench in a park. The movie has a tonal mix but a strong Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s a mix of ABBA and fluffy pop, with a lot of color. Gentry, for example, is seen wearing an all-red suit at one point. Is it you who wears all-red suits? This is a more obvious movie representation of a series or book I haven’t seen. Just as I won’t eat sugar on my greasy-spoon steak or eggs, so I like a story about a warrior who isn’t awoken and doesn’t wear all-red clothes.
There is a reason that this CIA superspy has been called “The Gray Man .”. He’s supposed be a ghost. He’s invisible to most people, even though he is right in front of them.
CIA Assassin Gentry (call-sign Sierra Six) has been assigned unwittingly to kill another operative of the Sierra program. Agent number four (or five?) died before he could be executed. Six receives a flash drive that contains incriminating evidence about the morally deranged Harvardian supervisor Carmichael, (Rege Jean Page). Carmichael invites Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), his ex-sarcastic, psychopathic love, to stop Six from using it.
Billy Bob Thornton is Six’s tired mentor. He is clearly British. Billy Bob cannot do a British accent, and is thankfully not trying. However, the ridiculous fakeness of Billy Bob’s tutee in a flashback scene makes it worth skipping the whole movie.
Dani is Ana de Armas’ very adorable female colleague. Julia Butters, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’s”, plays Thornton’s character’s niece. Her sole task is to keep her in danger.
Six globe-trots such as the Roadrunner try to decrypt flash drives while simultaneously shooting and playing with Lloyd Hansen, a snide Wiley E Coyote. The cartoon is a bit boring. It was mildly funny twice. Like the MCU, chaotic proceedings blow up the screen every 10 seconds, but never engage you emotionally or intellectually.
So, what is the excitement about? My guess is 1) very few people have read the books, and 2) because “The Gray Man” is directed by the Russo’s (brothers Joe and Anthony) who worked on 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Infinity Saga,” “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), and “Avengers: Endgame.”
This is where Captain America (Chris Evans), plays the villain. So if you love the MCU, and loads of cartoonish CGI violence where it’s really painful but everyone is completely fine 10 seconds later, then you’ll love “The Gray Man.”
If you have read the books and are familiar with the movies, it is best to avoid them. You haven’t yet read the books —. This is a summer of intense page-turning.
‘The Gray Man’
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfre Woodard, Julia Butters, Rege-Jean Page
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: July 22
Rating: 2 stars out of 5