‘The Gray Man’: What Netflix’s Most Expensive Movie Hides

In theaters on July 13 in Belgium before arriving on July 22 on Netflix, The Gray Man is the most expensive film produced by the platform to date with a budget of 200 million dollars. It’s the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster. Except that a blockbuster makes its entire career in theaters. Netflix is ​​playing big with this movie. On paper, the platform has a potential success. But the stakes are enormous.

What are the advantages of The Gray Man ?

The film is directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, a successful duo of the Marvel stable. They signed Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and especially the two planetary successes Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The cast is impressive: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans (Marvel’s ex-Captain America) and Ana de Armas (blade runner 2049, James Bond: Dying Can Wait). They are accompanied by a kind of best-of from the universe of series dear to Netflix: Regé-Jean Page (The Bridgerton Chronicle), Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo), Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters), Wagner Moura (Narco) and Alfred Woodard (Luke Cage).

Chris Evans (left) with the Russo Brothers on set. ©Netflix

What is the pitch of The Gray Man ?

The Gray Man is an action and spy film. In the film, Gosling’s character, nicknamed Six, quips on the James Bond analogy: “007 was already taken” he said of his code name. On the plot side, The Gray Man is rather a cousin of Jason Bourne. Six was trained and used in a secret CIA program, called Sierra. It is a super killer, of formidable efficiency. When he gets his hands on secrets dangerous to his superiors, he finds himself hunted down by the henchmen of the worst henchman his employers can recruit.

Ryan Gosling, a little more Jason Bourne than James Bond.
Ryan Gosling, a little more Jason Bourne than James Bond. ©Netflix

What is the origin of The Gray Man ?

The film is an adaptation of an eponymous novel by Mark Greaney, published in 2009, bestseller in the United States. Former assistant to Tom Clancy, Mark Greaney wrote several novels in the saga of the latter’s hero, Jack Ryan, before creating his own hero, Sierra Six, a super-killer in the service of the CIA. The film rights to his novel were acquired in 2011. Since then, the author has published twelve titles in the saga The Gray Man. Only the first has been translated into French, by Éditions de l’Archipel. A second episode of The Gray Man is expected to be released in the fall of 2022.

Chris Evans and Jessica Henwick.
Chris Evans and Jessica Henwick. ©Netflix

What are the strengths of The Gray Man ?

Action, action, more action. And its main trio who are having a great time. The film features nine action scenes from start to finish, spanning the four corners of the world, from Bangkok to Central Europe, culminating in an SUV-tram chase through the streets of Prague, weapons heavy in support.

Ryan Gosling finds a major role four years later The First Manwhile Chris Evans, hidden behind the very metrosexual mustache of Freddy Mercury and the sadism of his character, tries to make forget the boy scout Captain America.

After his pirouettes with James Bond, in a single scene from Dying can waitAna de Armas replays the shock spies – who resists the hunk while turning on all the bad guys who pass through his line of sight. Or how to break her image even before playing the stereotype of the Hollywood star: we will soon see her as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde hair by Andrew Dominik, another major Netflix production of 2022.

Regé-Jean Page and Ana de Armas.
Regé-Jean Page and Ana de Armas. ©Netflix

What are the weak points of The Gray Man ?

Exactly the same. Too much action kills the action. And the Russo brothers lock themselves into a one-upmanship. Anxious to show that they can stage a film without superheroes, they transform Six into an indestructible, infallible, tireless superman. Gosling offers only a muscular variation of his mute hero, chivalrous savior of the widow (and, here, of the orphan). Evans plays around until his psychopath becomes ridiculous. Ana de Armas, however effective she may be, is nonetheless a foil to the hero.

Ryan Gosling, eternal savior of the orphan (Julia Butters).
Ryan Gosling, eternal savior of the orphan (Julia Butters). ©Netflix

What are the Russos doing on Netflix?

The association of Marvel’s wonder boys with Netflix may seem surprising. But after signing the two biggest successes of the MCU (Infinity War and Endgame), the brothers have decided to change teams. The Russo Brothers once produced a burnt-out action flick for Netflix, Tyler Rake. This vehicle for Chris Hemsworth has become one of the most viewed films on the platform (a sequel has already been shot).

They’ve already signed a new deal with Netflix for a sci-fi blockbuster, The Electric Stateadapted from a graphic novel by Simon Stålenhag – Swedish artist whose retrofuturistic illustrations notably inspired the series Tales from the Loop (AmazonPrime). The project is co-written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (resident screenwriters for the Russo brothers, who worked on The Gray Man). The film will be produced as The Gray Man by the Russos’ production company, AGBO.

Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) is attached to the main role. Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) would be in talks. We are already talking about a new record budget of more than 200 million dollars…

What tells us The Gray Man Hollywood (and Netflix)?

In the past, such a film would have been a summer blockbuster. It is now an express consumer product. The adaptation project of The Gray Man dates back to 2011 already, with James Gray as director. The Sony studio was to produce it then, as a blockbuster for the big screen.

The name of Brad Pitt, then at the top, is cited. It is then considered to feminize the role of Six in order to entrust it to Charlize Theron (who did the job of the action spy in Atomic Blonde).

The Russos have been involved since 2014. But the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier kept them in the Marvel fold for five more years. Likewise, The Electric Statethe Russos’ next film for Netflix, was originally a Universal studio movie project.

Until now, Netflix’s record projects have been attached to prestigious directors like Martin Scorsese with The Irishman. The time for artistic legitimization seems to be over. The platform is now focusing on action and spectacle, with supporting stars, in order to stem the erosion of its subscribers in the face of increasingly aggressive competition. Hence the escalation of budget and action.

‘The Gray Man’: What Netflix’s Most Expensive Movie Hides