Netflix’s new and extremely expensive blockbuster The Gray Man hits the platform tomorrow (July 15) and the critics’ reactions are there.
The film, which cost around $200 million, is based on Mark Greaney’s book series of the same name. It follows Ryan Gosling’s CIA agent Court Gentry – aka Sierra Six, a highly skilled, agency-sanctioned operative who suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the CIA and on the run. Gentry must try to stay one step ahead of Chris Evans’s former CIA cohort Lloyd Hansen, who hunts Sierra Six on a world adventure that is sure to test the loyalty of all involved.
Starring alongside Gosling and Evans are No Time To Die’s Ana de Armas, Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page, 12 Years a Slave’s Alfre Woodard and Matrix Resurrections’ Jessica Henwick, with The Russo Brothers, the men who took charge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe megahits Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War, direction.
‘s own review of The Gray Man was largely positive, praising the film’s action sequences, the script’s use of suspense, and the performances by Gosling and Evans, but lamenting the generic nature of the plot.
The wider reaction from critics was decidedly mixed, there are some good reviews, all with the same caveat about the film’s story, but mostly, critics are unimpressed with Netflix’s spectacular new action. At the time, The Gray Man has a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is not terrible. But it’s a far cry from the 97% rating of the biggest action hit of 2022, Top Gun: Maverick, right now. Some critics were particularly bad, however.
How bad are we talking?
Robbie Colin of the Daily Telegraph (opens in new tab) gave it two stars, writing that the film was “a private-label supermarket version of the Mission: Impossible series, with Ryan Gosling as our Asda Smart Price Tom Cruise”. Brian Orndorf from Blu-Ray (opens in new tab) was even more difficult, calling The Gray Man “A bad parody of a terrible Michael Bay movie”.
Chris Barsanti from Slant wrote that Netflix’s new action movie is a “noisy, flashy spectacle that piles clichés on top of ridiculous plots and sprinkles it all with half-funny jokes,” while AA Dowd of Digital Trends (opens in new tab) actually took the film seriously, calling it “…a new, charmless action movie is a veritable keyword cloud adapted into a piece of generic subscriber bait”.
Clarisse Loughrey from The Independent (opens in new tab)compared the film to Red Notice, calling it “…weirdly weak and breathless, one of Netflix’s $200 million action flicks that will be on your landing page today and instantly forgotten about tomorrow”, David Sexton of the New Statesman (opens in new tab) felt the same way, he wrote that The Gray Man was “… a terrible example of making movies by algorithm” and felt “… carefully calculated, totally corporate product, totally predictable and devoid of any authorship or originality.”
Did anyone like it?
A few good ones did, including of course.
John Nugent of the Empire (opens in new tab) gave it four stars and called the film “…a quick, fun romp, with a couple of strong twists from Gosling and Evans, and Kevin Maher of The Times (opens in new tab) gave the same score and wrote that the film provided “Two hours of dizzyingly propulsive action cinema”.
Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) also liked, writing that the film represented “… red meat candy, a Bourne identity for brains fully trained in overstimulation and long past summer break”, and Charlotte O’Sullivan of the Evening Standard (opens in new tab) praised the film, ending his review with “This is not a film burdened by the need to be profound. But it is a joke”.
A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll find some bright red vegetables among the green splats. Critics agree that the film brings nothing new to the action movie genre, but some liked it, while others found it offensive.
The Gray Man hits Netflix tomorrow (Friday, July 22nd) – keep an eye out for our chat with the Russo brothers about their new movie and more this weekend – and it’s backed by a massive marketing campaign. . In about 10 days, when Netflix publishes its weekly results, we’ll know how many viewers ignored the critics’ scolding and watched.