The Gray Man marks Dhanush’s Hollywood debut and he does make a mark with his short-lived but meaty role. The film also stars Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling.
Like its title, Russo Brothers’ latest offering, The Gray Man’s juiciest bits are somewhere in between the white and black of what makes a good spy film. A genre that has solid competition from stalwarts such as 007, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt, The Gray Man walks into new unchartered territory. Ryan Gosling’s Six (an ex-con employed by CIA) is an unconventional agent. The kicks and punches are rock solid, but Gosling’s dead-pan expression in the oddest of scenes makes him an interesting choice for the film.
Shot on an estimated budget of over 200 million dollars, The Gray Man is a rich-looking film. From the exotic landscapes of Bangkok to the aristocratic buildings of Vienna, every frame oozes opulence. The smart thing about the film is that it has a nemesis who’s fighting one of its own. The plot involves an agent battling another to risk his life for the cause of the bigger picture. Gosling’s dapper Six faces an adversary from his own clique – Lloyd (Chris Evans) and a sidekick, Dani (Ana de Armas) who has some of the best punch lines in the film.
When there are no commercial shortcomings, you get the privilege to flaunt your star cast with big action scenes and use the best CGI possible. Russo Brothers do the exact same in The Gray Man by conceptualising one of the coolest plane action scenes after 2015’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Gosling doesn’t seem to mind this image makeover he’s had after playing safer characters in films like The Notebook or La La Land. As Six, it almost feels like he’s liberated himself from the shackles of the boxes his Hollywood success locked him up in. Beneath all the brooding and stone-cold-face moments in the film, Gosling has this childlike effervescence which makes his performance such a delight to watch. Evans, on the other end of the spectrum, spends a lot of time wearing really fancy clothes and flaunting that meme-worthy moustache. His character has his fair share of moments and some really big action scenes where Evans steps out of the Captain America shadow and executes some believable combat scenes.
On the flip side, The Gray Man has some ridiculous subplots and character arcs that feel out of place. Dhanush’s Avik San is, in fact, one of the few characters whose past is intriguing. Spoiler alert, but his screen time is short-lived and we wish we got to see a bit more of his backstory. Despite the minutes clocked on screen, Dhanush steals the show in that very important action scene with Gosling and Ana. I won’t be surprised if we see more of him in the follow-up films (trust this to become a quick-earning franchise).
The Gray Man is no Top Gun, but for those wanting to see the Russo Brothers dabble their feet in a non-MCU territory, this one is a solid fun offering.