The Gray Man

There is a dialogue that sums up the entire gist of The Gray Man: “If you want to make an omelette, you have to kill some people.”

If this line doesn’t tell you what this new globe-trotting, spy-action bomb-fest is about, nothing will. But just in case you’re still wondering, there is a character named Lloyd Hansen who won’t stop throwing serious-sounding silly punchlines your way.

For example: in the midst of a gunfight that has all but destroyed a tourist spot in Prague, Lloyd shoots a zinger from the comfort of his mansion headquarters: “Would someone mind shooting the man handcuffed to the bench?” he yells aghast to no one in particular, as his team of mercenaries continue to obliterate the landmark while trying to kill the man who is still handcuffed.

His orders were quite clear to begin with when the scene escalated. “Make him dead,” Lloyd had said as troops of highly qualified assassins arrived on the scene to claim the 50 million dollar bounty on the other guy’s head.

Netflix’s The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, is mostly a boy’s action flick that nails the ’90s action film formula. The Resident Evil series, starring Ahad Raza Mir, crashes and burns

Heading the mission for the CIA — who literally have to answer for creating an international incident — Lloyd adds “an extra 10 million to the first guy who puts a bullet in the Ken doll’s brain”, because the man just won’t die.

Lloyd would be a very funny man if he wasn’t a psychopath who is also one of the elite killers for hire in the business. His skill set is bested by the man on whom he did not waste the Ken doll reference on: Sierra Six, the sixth member of ‘The Gray Men’, CIA agents who do not exist. Think a ‘lite’ version of the Impossible Mission Force from Mission: Impossible, with only six members.

Six is played by Ryan Gosling, who is playing Ken in the film adaptation of Barbie toys. Lloyd is played by Chris Evans. Between the two, they could put Arnold Schwarzenegger and his one-liners to shame.

Make that almost to shame.

The Gray Man is written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Joe Russo, and produced and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. All of them collectively worked in the same capacities in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, so you know they have the rapport and they know the drill.

The Gray Man carries a very ’90s vibe, that’s made in today’s slick pace with a lot of fast-flying aerial shots taken from FPV (First Person View) drones (Michael Bay used them a lot in Ambulance).

The excessively silly, comic-book crazy vibe suits The Gray Man. Everyone — especially Chris Evans — seems to be having the time of their lives making the film. The action is hot and heavy, employing a lot of car chases and computer-generated effects. The cast is eye-catching, entertaining to watch and, in some cases, both — Ana de Armas plays a wrongfully blamed CIA agent who allies with Six, Billy Bob Thornton plays Six’s father-like mentor, and South Indian actor Dhanush (Ranjhana) plays another skilled killer — but overall the film turns out to be just okay…and that’s okay.

The Gray Man is mostly a boy’s action flick that nails the ’90s action film formula that made Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson and Nicolas Cage international sensations. It won’t do the same for Gosling or Evans, but neither of the actors would be expecting it to. Watch it. Enjoy it. Forget it. Revisit it years later.

Streaming on Netflix, The Gray Man is rated suitable for ages 16+. The younger lot can enjoy it as well

Resident Evil (The Series)

Want to read the world’s shortest review? Resident Evil is bad and boring.

Still want to read the details?

Fine.

The show, which spans eight, 40- to 60-minute-long episodes, and stars Ahad Raza Mir as the throwaway character Arjun Batra, tries to tell an original story that is loosely aligned to the Resident Evil video game continuity, while trying to put a new spin on established characters.

It crashes and burns brighter and louder than the badly animated CGI film series, the film series that starred Milla Jovovich, or the sad attempt at the reboot movie Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, which came out just last year.

Actually, when you think about the history of the storytelling and production quality of the Resident Evil adaptations, Jovovich’s series seems epic in comparison.

In this series, the characters are unlikable, the screenwriting is trite and tiresome, the pacing is sluggish, the production quality is cheap — and if it isn’t, it is probably designed to look that way (FYI: having a minimal look does not mean that you discard most of the props and furniture from the art direction).

The series follows Jade (Ella Balinska), a young woman who lives alone in a zombie-infested area so that she can uncover their behaviour patterns. Arjun, who is in a relationship with Jade, cares for her daughter Bea (Ella Zieglmeier) aboard a ship that understandably doesn’t dock (it would get overrun by the living dead if it did). The world is infested by the T-virus, a product of the Umbrella Corporation, whose elite units are making sure that some of humanity stays uninfected.

The story slingshots back and forth between Jade’s teenage days with her sister Billie (Adeline Rudolph and Siena Agudong; Jade’s younger self is played by Tamara Smart). The two have a father by the name of Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), who works under Umbrella’s head Evelyn Marcus (Paola Núñez), your typical power-mad corporate executive.

The 411-minute runtime of the series could have been easily condensed into 100 minutes, and even then the story would have faltered. Unlike the T-virus that infects people and turns them into zombies, one hopes that sense prevails and this monstrosity is stopped before Season 2 goes into production.

Resident Evil is streaming on Netflix and is rated suitable for ages 18+. My recommendation: it’s not safe for even 50-year-olds. The boredom here is deadlier than the T-virus

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 31st, 2022

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