Home » word wide » Chris Evans & Ana De Armas’ Camp Is the Best Part of ‘The Gray Man’

Chris Evans & Ana De Armas’ Camp Is the Best Part of ‘The Gray Man’

Both Ana de Armas and Chris Evans deliver excellent performances in ‘The Gray Man’ despite having lackluster material to work with.

It’s one thing when they’re paired together in a modern masterpiece like Knives Out, but Chris Evans and Ana de Armas managed to still be great together in a bad movie. When Netflix hired the directing duo and screenwriters behind two films that make it into the $2 billion club, they probably didn’t expect them to turn in something as completely unwatchable as The Gray Man.

The Russo Brothers and their regular screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely may have been perfectly suited for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the first film in an intended espionage franchise for the top streaming service was baffling incompetent to a shocking degree; Netflix was forced to learn the time old lesson of preplanning a franchise without delivering a solid first installment. While The Gray Man mostly wastes its ensemble of excellent performers, it’s Evans and de Armas who rise above the weak material and seemingly understand the film that the Russos should have been making from the beginning.

What Is ‘The Gray Man’ About?
Based on a 2009 novel, The Gray Man has all the hallmarks of a fun 1990s spy caper like The Saint or Mission: Impossible, but lacks any of the same wit or inventiveness. The film follows the grim CIA agent known as “Six” (Ryan Gosling) and his co-operative Dani Miranda (de Armas) on a mission to prevent national security documents from leaking in Bangkok. Unfortunately, they become the target of the ex-CIA agent turned mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Evans), whose sociopathic rage has earned him the reputation of being one of the world’s top hitmen. What follows is a lot of nonsense revolving around a list of active CIA operatives (aka, the same plot point used in nearly every spy movie from Mission: Impossible to Skyfall); unfortunately, the excellent cast that includes Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, and Billy Bob Thornton fails to rise above the dull material.

However, Evans and de Armas both understand what The Gray Man clearly should have been, which is a much campier, self-aware summer blast of fun. Evans brings the same physicality he showed in the Captain America franchise, but plays up Lloyd’s unhinged qualities to the extreme; it’s almost as if he’s playing the sort of film that his Scott Pilgrim vs. The World character Lucas Lee would have starred in. As for de Armas, she proves once again after No Time To Die that she deserves her own action franchise, because her effortless charisma never fails, even when the dialogue does. Since The Gray Man generated most of its audience on Netflix, savvy viewers would best be served if they just skipped straight to the precious moments where this pair was on screen.

Chris Evans & Ana de Armas Embrace Camp in ‘The Gray Man’
It goes without saying that Gosling is one of the best actors of his generation, but he’s clearly not well-suited for this sort of big budget spectacle. Gosling had spent the last decade of his career working with auteur filmmakers like Damien Chazelle, Denis Villenueve, and Nicolas Winding Refn, but they all gave him material that suited his talent. Unfortunately, Gosling was attempting to play Six a little straight, and so The Gray Man’s attempt to put together a modern version of Face/Off didn’t work. Even if Gosling didn’t bring the same eccentric mannerisms that Nicolas Cage had mastered, Evans certainly had a John Travolta-esque aptitude for being cartoonishly evil. You have to admire anyone that can deliver the line “you look like you’ve been hit by a bus, but it only adds to your mystique” with a straight face.

Chris Evans is clearly having a blast being absurdly evil, and brings the same maniacal energy of his Knives Out character Ransom to the role. Neither Ransom or Lloyd are trying to hide their selfish tendencies, and their overconfidence that they will get away with it is what makes them so much fun. Between threatening a literal child and making jokes about cats while preparing to torture people, Evans embraces the opportunity to treat The Gray Man as farce. It makes it even more impressive that Ana de Armas was able to be just as compelling with a much more self-serious character.

Chris Evans & Ana de Armas’ Pseudo-Serious Charisma Pops
Not every action movie that is retroactively considered to be a “camp classic” is as obvious in its intentions as Face/Off, as films like Point Break have an aura of self-seriousness that only makes them more humorous. This is the rare sort of tone that de Armas was given to run with; she has to play the quintessential “female sidekick” to the male action hero who the audience is told has experience that speaks for itself. While this generally means that a film doesn’t have to actually spend any time developing its female character, de Armas proves in nearly every action scene that Miranda is a much more compelling protagonist than Six.

Ana de Armas does all the same stunt work that Gosling does, but does so without attempting to add any depth to what’s clearly an underwritten character. Instead of willfully engaging with the dullest elements of the conspiracy storyline, de Armas treats her expositional scenes with the sort of flatness that they deserve. Instead, she allows her personality to pop when she’s rescuing Six in a citywide firefight and beating up the enigmatic assassin “Lone Wolf” (Dhanush). While Gosling’s attempts to give Six personality seem disingenuous, de Armas’ casual disinterest in anything that’s not being cool serves as a breath of fresh air.

‘The Gray Man’ Is a Franchise in the Making
Even if audiences were cooler on the film than some may have expected, Netflix hasn’t stopped in announcing that multiple sequels and spinoffs to The Gray Man are in production. It begs the question as to whether the Russo Brothers will stick with their original intentions or reframe the franchise around the characters that seem to pop, because it’s clear that Lloyd and Miranda are deserving of their own extended projects. No one really wants to see a dull storyline about a character like Six protecting a little girl; they would be much more interested in hearing about Lloyd’s dog or watching de Armas drive furiously through a packed crowd pursuing evil assassins.

It’s a credit to both Chris Evans and Ana de Armas that they were able to make something out of material that simply wasn’t there. They are clearly a duo that works wonderfully together, as they proved in Knives Out that they could engage in a battle of wits that actually required brain power to follow. Whatever material they end up with, it’s always going to be a great decision to see these two together.


Check Also

Ben Affleck’s honest confession about Jennifer’s Lopez love for Yellowstone

Ben Affleck has recently made surprising revelation about his wife Jennifer Lopez’s unexpected love for …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *