review of Netflix’s new blockbuster

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

Anthony and Joe Russo’s rise is dizzying. Initially directors of sitcoms (Community) and generic comedies (You and Me… and Duprée), metronomic technicians turned construction managers for Disney, the brothers are on the verge of rising to the top of the Hollywood food chain. Whether the owners of eyeballs have known for a few years that their association generates aesthetic delights as fulfilling as aortic ruptures, their talent as producers has never been found wanting.

Hyperactive on the big as the small screen. Capable of playing the good fairies of independent creations like the Australian relicwhile working on the upcoming live action adaptation of Hercules of Disney, without forgetting to revisit in serial format The Night Warriorswhile they stage their own feature films here and there, both clearly have a remarkable flair, coupled with a certain gift for ubiquity. Ebetween curiosity, studio Stakhanovism, remake opportunism and Taylorization of cultural tropisms fashionable, their professional success is indisputable, not to say dazzling.

Paint it gold

After a Cherry thought of as a springboard to the Oscars, greeted by critics and the public with a mixture of consternation and cruel hilarity, the Russos have therefore changed gears. They are returning to mainstream entertainment, between pure action buggery and imposed figures of a certain spy cinema, all mixed with several remarkable identities of the big superheroic machines. A strategically relevant alloy, which will allow certain spectators to forget their impending death, unless it causes the immediate fusion of their brains.

The Gray Man : photo Ryan Gosling

Just for your hair

DR MUSTACHE VS ETHAN DRUNK

Absent from the screens since 2018, Ryan Gosling is not there to string pearls, but rather to interrupt the existence of a quantity of interchangeable extras, by linking supposedly iconic replicas. Not that these are immortal (on the contrary, the rehearsal comedy inspired by the characterization of Snake Plissken, revolving around the size of the character is a rare embarrassment), but the actor introduces an undeniable energy. More than this known score of Murderer Droopyhe has fun here with the undeniable cartoonish dimension of his character.

Invincible, but unable to escape his pursuers, able to turn any bittern into a gum pie provided a friend saves his ass, “Six” lends itself as much to the muscular first degree as to the schoolboy pastiche. However, the actor excels in both registers, as the always essential reminder The Nice Guys. He therefore often manages to pull out of the game, in particular thanks to the support of Chris Evans, obviously eager to qualify his image as a patriotic leek.

The Gray Man : photo Ryan Gosling

The man with the golden perm

Mustache of an incestuous customs officer, smile more carnivorous than a reform of unemployment insurance, manifest jubilation in the accomplishment of many abuses, the guy is bad. The antagonist to which the interpreter of Captain America lends his features is a perpetual source of excess, which manages to impel some comical protrusions to the story. The whole being written in such a way as to mock without preaching, several traditional traits of Hollywood virilism, the step aside is more than once appreciable. Nothing fancy of course, or frankly original, but a commitment on the part of the duo of actors which compensates in places for the nullity of the writing as well as the absence of stakes.

Photo Chris Evans

Mustache

LEXO THOUSAND

Those whose ambition is primarily to leave their brains in the garage will be able to derive some satisfaction from viewing, thanks to a sustained tempo, and a clear desire to put most of the European tourist offices out of work. It’s very simple, we sometimes wonder if the blockbuster is not a pretext allowing its initiators to take a short tour of the real estate market in the Schengen area, just to speculate or renew their second homes.

The consequence : a great variety in the places visited, and a sometimes playful, sometimes sadistic pleasurebut always immediate, in the discovery of the spaces where the characters move about.

Photo Ana de Armas

Dying can wait

Similarly, the budget, which we guess is very comfortable, allows the film to have fun like a hyperactive kid with the means at its disposal. Is drone filming about to become a fashion? Quick, The Gray Man integrates as soon as one of its protagonists retains a fart sauce. The spectator likes explosions? Quick, spend the equivalent of Nevada’s GDP on jet fuel ! Do people have questionable taste when it comes to hair styling? Quick, dye Ryan Gosling blonde! This enthusiasm, rather than lapsing into the dreaded stuffiness, brings the whole thing closer to an innocent, almost cartoonish tone.

Even in his plastically coarse, but pleasantly flashy costumes, The Gray Man looks like a mongoloid James Bond, a fantasized and regressive evocation of its own references. We obviously think of it when Six meets an ally made up anyhow, an obvious traitor, whose histrionics becomes a source of instant pleasure. All these pleasures taken individually are very small, but added together, they allow the feature film to elapse without causing too serious sequelae. Afterwards, it seems that these few pleasant points are to be credited to the skills of the producers of the Russo brothers, who here confirm their ability to grasp the spirit of the times, conform to it and identify the elements most appreciated by the audience.

The Gray Man : Photo Ryan Gosling

Quantum of hairpiece

BEAUTIFUL AS A TRUCK

Their qualities as directors remain unchanged and the brothers prove once again that division by zero is not impossible. We already remember that in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they managed to spoil a series of effective choreographies thanks to an abstruse montage of filthy shots, designed to over-stimulate a spectator considered to be a slight moron. Without finding the heights of filmic junk from their previous spreadsthe brothers once again show their inability to understand the challenges of storytelling through images.

Their use of drones is a vivid illustration of this. A few months ago, Michael Bay rushed them into the middle of the action scenes of Ambulance, thus offering never-before-seen images and a grammar of action as maddening as it was unprecedented. For the Russos, it is at best a joker to compensate for poor spatial management (at the risk of flattening the action), at worst aa sterile coquetry, brandished to act as a transition as soon as the characters visit a new setting. If the whole is crossed by “cool” images, sometimes striking, at no time is all of this thought of as a series of elements that have to be assembled.

The Gray Man : Photo Ryan Gosling

The famous travel sickness

Each protagonist is now a potential superhero, so above any form of stakes or threat that it is no longer even necessary to approach them through cutting. We thus remain flabbergasted by the piece the planing of Vienna, at the center of the film as well as its promotion. Lots of funny ideas pass before our eyesfrom a pursuit at the wrong time, boosted by the surrounding reflective surfaces, through a motionless shootout when our hero finds himself handcuffed to a bench, to name only these two small finds.

But none is ever contextualized, cut out, put into perspective, the editing as well as the framing never wondering what is the meaning of what is being told. Who are the antagonists? How many are they ? Why do they keep getting dead? We don’t give a damn about steaks. Competent producers and incapable filmmakers, the Russos have made a film that looks like them: comfortably inconsistent.

The Gray Man is available on Netflix since July 22, 2022

The Gray Man: Official Poster

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