To a boilerplate spy film, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo bring the expertise of staging extravagant bang-em-up sequences in their Marvel outings and oodles of star power. The Gray Man, adapted from Mark Greaney’s novel of the same name and premiered on Netflix, assembles several prominent actors, including India’s very own Dhanush.

Ryan Gosling is Central Intelligence Operative Court Gentry, better known as Sierra Six. Forced to go on the run after uncovering an uncomfortable truth about his handler Denny (Regé-Jean Page), Six teams up with agent Dani (Ana de Armas) to stay out of view – and stay alive.

Denny hands the job of eliminating Six to the ruthless gun-for-hire Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans). Lloyd’s bargaining chip is Claire (Julia Butters), the young niece of Six’s recruiter Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton).

Lloyd subcontracts the job to several mercenaries, including a near-unrecognisable Wagner Moura and Lone Wolf (Dhanush). Their hot pursuit of Six and Dani gives the 129-minute movie momentum, but not quite purpose.

Dhanush in The Gray Man (2022). Courtesy Netflix/AGBO.

Already beaten to the finishing line by numerous other man-on-the-run movies, The Gray Man aims for and delivers the kind of thriller that dashes into view and then disappears over the horizon. The film’s redundancy is best captured in the moment when a frustrated Lloyd shoot bullets into a bunch of corpses.

With little new to add to the amply stacked spy film category, the screenplay by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely concentrates its energies on staging spectacular action sequences and amplifying the star wattage. The goal appears to be Jason Bourne/Mission: Impossible on a budget and with snark, shovelled our way mostly by Chris Evans’s preening and sadistic hitman.

The moustachioed Evans runs in the opposite direction of his earnest Captain America avatar. Evans has some of the film’s more entertaining scenes and makes a colourful contrast to Ryan Gosling’s vanilla brawn.

The actors can only be complimented for their commitment to a mothballed script. Every one of them is up for more than is offered by a routine assembly of gun battles, fistfights and verbal jousting. Indian viewers might get a kick out of Dhanush’s very serious and noble hitman, who is described by Lloyd as “my sexy Tamil friend”.

The Gray Man (2022).