There’s really no roadmap for filmmakers after they gross over $2 billion, let alone one for those who gross that sum two years in a row. James Cameron opted for the “Avatar” ad infinitum approach, with biennial instalments scheduled to run for the next decade (“Avatar 2” premieres in December this year; “Avatar 5” comes out December 2028), but the reigning champs of Blockbuster, Joe and Anthony Russo, took a different tack. After their record-breaking Marvel hits “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” they tried their hand at a stylish indie character study with “Cherry,” starring Tom Holland as an ex-marine/drug-addicted bank robber, and now, with “The Gray Man,” they’re entering into the world of CIA assassins.
What hasn’t changed from the Marvel days is the Russo’ ability to pull together an all-star cast. Ryan Gosling plays the titular gray man, a CIA operative called Court Gentry (aka Sierra Six), who was taken out of a prison by Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) and turned into a highly-trained mercenary. Now out of favor among his comrades, Six is at the center of a global manhunt headed by his former colleague Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), who will stop at nothing to see him dead. The only person he can rely on to watch his back is Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas).
The screenplay, based on the novel The Gray Man by Mark Greaney, is by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. In a 2020 interview with Deadline, Anthony Russo dropped some hints about what kind of big-budget madness to expect: “For those who were fans of ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier,’ this is us moving into that territory in more of a real-world setting. That’s what this movie really means for us.” And in true MCU style, the Russos are looking at this as a potential tent-pole movie: “The intention is for it to be competitive with any theatrical, and the ability to do it with Gosling and Evans is a dream for us. The idea is to create a franchise and build out a whole universe, with Ryan at the center of it. We have all committed to the first movie, and that’s got to be great to get us to the second movie,” said Joe Russo.
Not only does “The Gray Man” have a sizeable budget (rumored to be around $200 million), it also boasts one of the most stacked supporting casts of the year with “Bridgerton” star Regé-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick (“The Matrix Resurrections”), Indian movie star Dhanush, Wagner Moura (“Narcos”), and Alfre Woodard (“Clemency” and “Luke Cage”).
Over the last few years, Netflix has really started to establish itself as a big-time player in the action genre. “Extraction” became their most-watched original film (and arguably the biggest movie during the 2020 lockdowns); “Red Notice” finished up as the fifth most-streamed movie of 2021; and, just before “The Gray Man” drops, Elsa Pataky stars in a Chris Hemsworth-produced action-thriller “Interceptor.”
Thankfully we won’t have to wait too long for this one as it’s due to hit theaters on July 15, and will be available to stream on Netflix from 22 July. Watch the new trailer below.