With US$200 million / AU$280 million and over a decade of development behind it, Netflix’s spy thriller The Gray Man has some lofty expectations to meet – especially given the streaming giant’s current financial woes. But after tackling projects as large-scale and insanely profitable as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it’s a challenge The Russo Brothers welcome with open arms; and a right they’ve earned with the crimson N after the tremendous success of Extraction, fronted by Marvel’s god of thunder Chris Hemsworth. Now, less than two months away from seeing the light of day, The Gray Man has a trailer.
Starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, The Gray Man will go down in history as the most expensive Netflix film as of 2022, soundly leaving both Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (US$159 million / AU$222 million) and the Will Smith-led Bright (US$106.2 million / AU$148.5 million) in the dust. Although as we’ve recently learned, this production won’t be quite as hefty as Strange Things season 4 given its US$30 million / AU$41.5 million-per-episode price tag, bringing the full nine-part instalment to an astounding total of US$270 million / AU$377 million.
Based on the 2009 novel by Mark Greaney, The Gray Man follows Court Gentry AKA Sierra Six (portrayed by Ryan Gosling) – a highly-skilled CIA operative recruited straight from a federal penitentiary by handler Donald Fitzroy (portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton) and the agency’s top merchant of death, whose true identity was known to none.
After uncovering “dark agency secrets,” Gentry finds himself being hunted by a psychopathic former colleague turned nemesis, Lloyd Hansen (portrayed by Chris Evans), along with an entire cavalcade of international assassins. A global chase ensues.
While it isn’t exactly the newest of concepts – fun fact, Brad Pitt was initially cast in Gosling’s role back in 2015 and has since taken on a similar project in David Leitch’s Bullet Train – many already believe it’s rich with franchise potential.
“The idea is to… build out a whole universe,” Joe Russo tells Deadline.
“We’re not going to answer every question in the first movie. This is being conceived as a series of films, and again, potentially branching out, we could follow other characters, but we’re not gonna answer every question in the movie,” he later explained to Collider.
“So you’re gonna finish the movie, have a complete story, but you’re still gonna have questions about the wider universe. And I think that’s one way to break the model a little bit, is to not give the audience everything in one film. Don’t have a close-ended narrative. Have an open-ended narrative that’s a chapter in a book.”
“The movie is a real mano a mano between those two great actors who represent two different versions of the CIA, in what it can be, and what it can do,” says Anthony Russo.
“We’re trying to embed it in a very modern, current environment that we’re facing on a global level in terms of spy networks and the CIA… It’ll be fun to see Chris [Evans] in the opposite role of Captain America.”
Since the initial announcement, the cast has been further substantiated by a slew of familiar names. Audiences around the world will be treated to performances from the perennially striking Ana de Armas (No Time To Die) – who’s set to reunite with Ryan Gosling for the first time since Blade Runner 2049; Chris Evans for the first time since Knives Out – Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist, The Matrix Resurrections), Alfre Woodard (12 Years A Slave, The Lion King), and Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page.
As for the screenplay, the Russo Brothers have penned the adaptation in collaboration with fellow Marvel alumni, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America Trilogy, Avengers: Infinity War + Endgame); the latter duo has reportedly given the script a little “polish.”
The Gray Man has a theatrical release date of July 15th, 2022 before hitting Netflix the week after on July 22nd, 2022 – check out the first trailer above and the first-look images below (courtesy of Entertainment Weekly).