The Gray Man (2022)
I'm not actually too sure what the pitch for this was, but I expect it didn't go something like this;
"It's like John Wick. You know, slick fight scenes and gunplay." "Okay, why would we spend our money on something already done?" "Because this would be YOURS!" "Okay, how much do you need?"
Now we have yet to discover whether there is enough space in Testosterone Avenue to comfortably accommodate Sierra Six and Evans' moustache. Granted, the place is not as attractive as it used to be, not least since all of that angry estrogen starting throwing its weight around.
Despite the unlikely conversation above, you do have to wonder just how far away from the truth it really is. Netflix, even with their lower membership, are still spunking money for fun in the direction of anyone that they recognise and also doesn't mind being seen with them in public. And so the Russo brothers are next in line for the 'all you can eat' approach to modern filmmaking. Hence Chris Evans and that moustache, I shouldn't wonder.
If not Marvel, then what? Let's fleece those suckers in their grandiose halls laced with gold and diamonds. Snapped their hands off, they did. Netflix's avaricious scattergun approach to spending money does occasionally bear enough fruit to warrant a business strategy that is mostly littered with the coiled turds of enthusiastic, ill-considered choices. Who cares when you have money to pay for it and the same amount again to just burn for a laugh?
If anything, The Gray Man proves that Russo and Russo were never the outstanding auteurs they might have had you believing at some point that they were. This is the epitome of the behaviours of creators that have rarely checked their budget. Two hundred million dollars is the same amount that Netflix spent on Red Notice.
Nearly half a billion dollars to watch Ryan Reynolds tell the same jokes he does on Twitter for free and for Gal Gadot to look fetching in her latest frock. Add to that Ryan Gosling looking pensive and more often than not, bloody annoyed about just about everything (not his pay check, I imagine) and there you have it. We also got an ex-wrestler and Angelina Jolie's ex-husband sniffing around for scraps, but you could easily pick worse places to absent-mindedly leave your begging bowl unattended. In essence, two projects with enormous wastes of money that didn't need to be made and weren't as good as they should have been.
John Wick was and is cool. I applauded when I was in the cinema, which I very rarely do. It deserved it, however. This feels like someone watched that film, was determined to do the same, but lost the feeling of magic along the way. The unbridled delight at the 'show' they were witness to, the way you didn't know whether you wanted to sit open-mouthed in wonder or grin your head off. I would have done both if I could have.
This only drew a heavy sigh at it's lack of inventiveness, telling a story as simply and as quickly as it could get away with. There is no engagement, no knack for embellishments, no patience or desire for a perfect, inventive shot. Just 'what will do' seems enough and blimey, doesn't it show.
Now, remove yourself from my personal space. Hahahaha.