One of the movies I’m most excited for in the coming years is Joe and Anthony Russo‘s big-budget spy film The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. When the Netflix movie was first announced, reports suggested the streamer signed on in the hopes that the project would spark a franchise, and sure enough, the Russo Brothers confirmed that’s the plan during a CCXP panel moderated by Collider’s Steve Weintraub.
The filmmakers behind Avengers: Endgame and Captain America: Civil War talked about several new and upcoming projects in the works from their AGBO production banner, but it was their thoughts on The Gray Man that made my ears perk up.
The action thriller follows a former CIA operative turned freelance assassin named Court Gentry, who is also known as the Gray Man. Gosling will play Gentry, who is hunted across the globe by his former CIA cohort Lloyd Hansen (Evans).
“What we’re doing on Gray Man that’s different [is]… we’re not gonna answer every question in the first movie,” explained Joe Russo. “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. So you’re gonna finish the movie, [and] 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 [like] a chapter in a book.”
“[We’re] guys who grew up on a steady diet of action thrillers. The cast is exceptional, the script is excellent,” boasted Joe Russo, who also revealed that he and his brother are just six weeks out from shooting The Gray Man. “We start shooting at the end of January here in Los Angeles, and then we have some work overseas in Europe after that in the spring.”
The Russos plan to shoot the film on location across the globe, as The Gray Man is supposed to feel massive in scale, and on par with Netflix’s most expensive movies.
“We have an incredible team and Netflix has been very supportive. [COVID] hasn’t impacted our location shooting,” said Joe Russo. “This is a big, global spy thriller. Its intent is, it’s gonna hit a lot of different locations, and we’re still gonna film in those locations. So we’re excited about that because it’s really important to the storytelling that we visit these different locations.”
So what should MCU fans expect from this newest entry in the spy movie genre, which stars a two-time Oscar nominee in Gosling and the star of the highest-grossing movie of all time in Avengers: Endgame hero Evans?
“Gray Man is a spy film. For fans of The Winter Soldier, The Gray Man is similar in a sense that 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,” explained Anthony Russo, who described Evans’ character as the lead antagonist. “It’ll be fun to see Chris in the opposite role of Captain America.”
Anthony Russo also promised that The Gray Man will deliver social commentary in addition to some epic action sequences.
“We’re just trying to be very current with it in terms of speaking to issues that we feel like are feeding global anxiety at the moment. Like Joe was saying earlier, how do you Trojan Horse really relevant issues into a really exciting, thrilling genre package? So for fans of action and the spy genre, it’s going to really deliver on that in a major way. But at the same time it has a lot of complex social issues that are unfolding right now.”
Though the Russos and their AGBO partners are thinking franchise, as was Netflix’s hope when the company splurged on this package, it’s possible that the siblings may have to hand the reins of potential Gray Man sequels to other directors, depending on their ever-busy schedules.
“It could be other filmmakers,” Joe Russo said regarding any sequels. “I mean we love it, we love what we’ve been prepping, we love the cast, but we’d love to tell multiple stories and schedule-dependent, we might not be able to handle everything. So we love to bring new voices in and we also get excited about that.”
“We like producing as much as we like directing because we like being inspired and surprised by other filmmakers. We like collaborating, because Anthony and I have been doing it our entire lives, so we’re not afraid of collaboration,” said Joe.
There’s no word on a release date for The Gray Man, but we’ll stay on top of this project for you, especially with more casting expected in the coming weeks. For more from the Russos’ CCXP panel including some news regarding the Extraction sequel, click here.
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