The first book in a best-selling series by Mark Greaney, The Gray Man, is titled after a trait that is as desirable for a spy as it is hard to find in modern films about their exploits: the capacity to move through the world undetected, to be so unremarkable that those you interact with forget you as soon as you leave the room.
That moral barely makes it into Joe and Anthony Russo’s fashionable, enormous Netflix adaptation, whose lead character (Ryan Gosling) attracts the kind of mayhem that shuts down entire cities (aside from being so attractive that the spies in a John le Carré operation would never let him out in the field). Even though a supporting character preaches the virtues of fitting in, he has one-in-a-million facial hair and resides in a structure created by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an artist who made Gaud appear subdued. While the movie itself may be almost as unmemorable as its hero purportedly aspires to be, it’s everything from inconspicuous.
When the CIA’s Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) hired him as a black-ops assassin, Court Gentry, who is played by Ryan Gosling, was serving time for murder. He is now Sierra Six, the final active member of Fitzroy’s Sierra crew, a group akin to the Dirty Dozen. When we first witness him in action, we might be astounded that he has made it thus far. His mission, one of the most stupidly improbable in the history of hitman movies, calls for him to fire through the ceiling at a man two stories above him who was only moments earlier wandering around in the open, using a gun the size of a jackhammer. Six abandons the job and murders the man the old-fashioned manner when a youngster shows up on the scene.
But while he’s still alive, the victim confesses that he’s a former member of the Sierra team who was targeted because he had evidence on a flash drive that the Agency’s group commander Denny Carmichael (Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page) is murdering people all over the world for his own sinister ends. Knowing Six now had the motivation, Carmichael portrays him as a renegade and dispatches all of his agents to murder him.