The Gray Man Renders Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling Charmless

OThe sad reality of entertainment is that you will be more attracted to dumber vehicles than you deserve. Maybe that’s how Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, two of Hollywood’s most appealing actors, can end up in a showy but hollow movie like The Gray Man directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and adapted from Mark Greaney’s novel, 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. It’s entertaining only in the most plodding sense. It could easily be cast as almost any character. When the characters played by Gosling and Evans—the first a dubious hero, the other an obvious villain—encounter each other for the first time, Gosling says, “I immediately don’t like you,” to which Evans responds, “Looks like we’re on the same page.” With repartee like that, who needs movie stars? It’s as if two slices of meat are talking to each other.

Gosling is a skillful operative, known only by Six. He was the last of Sierra’s black-ops agents assembled understatedly by Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton). Six, wearing a red suit and slinky pants, is seen pacing through Bangkok at a party. He’s there to kill some bad guy, who turns out to be perhaps not so bad after all. And from there, Six becomes embroiled in another mission, that of bringing down a corrupt agency honcho, Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page, of Bridgerton), a man with secrets he’ll do anything to protect. Carmichael then hires cocky, psychopathic, freelancer Lloyd Hansen Evans (Evans). This sadist is so sick that his old employer, the CIA kicked him out. Lloyd prefers to wear tight white trousers and soft suede loafers without socks. He also sports a cartoonish sprout of facial hair which Six at one point refers to as a “trash ‘stache.” In The Gray ManThe quips keep coming.

Lloyd Hansen is played by Chris Evans.

Paul Abell—Netflix

Because he’ll stop at nothing, Lloyd kidnaps the person Fitzroy loves most in the world, his niece, Claire (played by Julia Butters, the marvelous young actress who sparred with Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood). Claire has a heart condition and an attendant pacemaker. These will be prominently featured in the plot. Ana de Armas drifts through the film in the thankless role of a CIA agent who steps in now and then have to save Six’s bacon. Without much context, the action moves haphazardly from Bangkok, Langley, Va. to Vienna, Prague and back again. There’s plenty of generic gunplay and anonymous but fiery explosions, as well as a sequence in which a character’s fingernails are pulled out (off-camera, but still) with pliers and dropped onto a plate in all their miniature, bloody glory.

Ana de Armas is a CIA agent that shows up now to rescue Ryan Gosling and his Six

Paul Abell—Netflix

Read more reviews by Stephanie Zacharek

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo were the men behind the movie that is still one of the most successful movies ever made. Avengers: Endgame. But financial success doesn’t equate to thoughtful filmmaking. (The Captain AmericaThe movies that Evans made together, The Winter Soldier Civil WarThese films are far better than either Endgame Or its immediate predecessor. Avengers: Infinity War. Gray Man—reportedly Netflix’s most expensive movie to date and likely the start of a new franchise—has a costly, opulent look that adds up to nothing, leaving you feeling not so much dazzled as pummeled. And in the movie’s climax, when Six and Lloyd finally square off in a bout of hand-to-hand combat accompanied by much grunting and groaning, they practically smelt into one fleshy, undistinguished blob. Although they look cartoonish, both of them are barely eye-catching. Their personalities have been subsumed by their showy bodies; there’s nothing witty or charming or even dashingly diabolical about either of them. Gray Man inadvertently pulls off a mission you’d think would be impossible: rendering its stars nearly invisible, or at least just people you can’t wait to get away from.

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