The Gray Man Parent Guide
Gratuitous torture and a formulaic plot make this action flick unappealing to family audiences.
Parent Movie Review
Off-the-books CIA agent “Six” (Ryan Gosling) has been doing dirty work for the agency since they got his murder sentence commuted and had him released from prison. In that time, he’s become a very dangerous, very valuable asset. But the times they are a-changing, and new management has come in. On his latest hit, Six finds compromising material about some of those new bosses, and rather than turn it in or destroy it, he goes on the run.
Determined to lock down their secrets, the agency appoints an outside contractor unbound by the CIA rulebook, the sociopathic Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to kill Six and bring in his info. And while Lloyd has vast resources, little oversight, and no scruples, it’s going to take more than a merciless maniac to bring an experienced operative like Six to ground. A lot more.
The whole film feels vaguely familiar, mostly because it’s playing things very safely. It doesn’t want to step a toe outside the established tropes of the genre, and it succeeds at coloring inside those lines remarkably well. The downside of that caution is that the film tends to feel a little too careful for a fast paced, high intensity action thriller about a rogue secret assassin. Even the torture scenes, while unpleasant, feel pretty rote. Say what you will about Red Sparrow, (and there’s a lot to say about Red Sparrow,) but the torture in that movie was nothing if not mind-searing. Not that I’m endorsing torture – I fervently oppose it – but even with gratuitous torture, The Gray Man fails to stake out its own niche in a market saturated with violent action films.
I suspect that the filmmakers’ hopes to stand out centered primarily on their big budget cast. Gosling, Evans, de Armas, even Billy Bob Thornton are all big names with a lot of screen presence, and that is definitely what keeps the movie from devolving into boredom. You’d think the fight choreography would do that, and it does…sometimes. Some scenes are exactly the kind of kinetic, dramatic mayhem you’d want, and others are just a blurry mess.
On violence alone, I’d lump this flick a lot closer to an “R” rating than the PG-13 it received, but since the directors played it pretty safe with the cussing, the film squeaks in under the line. Parents will likely be less enthused by how close the come to crossing toe that line. Repeated stabbings, shootings, and at least one exceedingly nasty burn all make this grisly fare for younger viewers. For older genre fans, The Gray Man is a reasonably exciting, if familiar, globe-trotting action romp which happily glosses over the geopolitical realities of blowing up large areas of foreign cities in favor of high-intensity action sequences. And in this genre, they’re hardly alone in that choice.Directed by Anthony Russo, and Joe Russo. Starring Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas. Running time: 122 minutes. Theatrical release July 22, 2022. Updated July 20, 2022
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The Gray Man
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Gray Man rated PG-13? The Gray Man is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of strong violence, and strong language.
Violence: People are tortured with strong electrical shocks and fingernail removal. Characters are frequently shot, stabbed, and blown up. An individual is shocked with a defibrillator during a fight. There are flashback scenes depicting violent child abuse: specifically, an adult forces a child’s head under the water. A child is kidnapped. A man is sucked out of an airplane.
Sexual Content: There are moderate sexual references but no sexual activity.
Profanity: There are 13 uses of scatological profanity and one sexual expletive, plus occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are briefly seen smoking tobacco and drinking.
Page last updated July 20, 2022
The Gray Man Parents' GuideWhat are some of the CIA’s more public failures? How have they addressed controversy over torture and “black sites”? What is the actual purpose of the CIA? When were they founded? What have they been doing since? What kind of political oversight are they subject to? How have they reshaped national politics in foreign countries? What were the consequences of those operations?
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Ryan Gosling appears in other action thrillers like The Nice Guys, Drive, and Blade Runner 2049. Chris Evans can be found showing off his stunts in films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Snowpiercer, and Push. Ana de Armas recently starred in the latest entry in the tentpole spy thriller James Bond franchise in No Time to Die. If you just want the worst the genre has to offer, try The 355.
This film borrows heavily from other entries in the genre, like the Jason Bourne franchise (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum), John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Extraction, The Contractor, Kate, and The Rhythm Section.