Kicking the doors off of plans to make the 2022 Netflix movie schedule an even greater behemoth than its 2021 slate, the streaming platform has dropped its first look at a ton of goodies headed our way in the year to come. Naturally, there were two titles that I was looking forward to hearing about, and both Knives Out 2 and The Gray Man were showcased in this quick but effective sneak preview. Of course, now that I’ve seen both Ana de Armas and Regé-Jean Page in action via the Russo Brothers’ espionage thriller, I kind of have James Bond on the brain.
Admittedly, this isn’t a hard feat to accomplish, especially in the wake of No Time To Die’s epic finale for Daniel Craig’s record setting tenure. While there’s still plenty to digest from that film, and an entire awards campaign to follow for even deeper insights into how it all came together, I think I can speak for the Bond fandom when I say that I’m ready to start thinking about the future. What better time than during the 60th anniversary of the James Bond franchise to evaluate a seemingly worthy competitor like The Gray Man.
Before we jump too deep into the 007 of it all, the very fact that Ana de Armas and Regé-Jean Page share screen time together is enough to start ringing alarm bells. Netflix seemingly must to have known this. As not only was Ms. de Armas an absolute highlight of the most recent Bond film, but Mr. Page is one of the most hotly tipped competitors to inherit the role of 007 in the post-Craig era chapter. It’s the best way to hook James Bond fans into this new franchise in a short, dialogue-free context, by capitalizing on the buzz of two co-stars who’ve been discussed widely in the community.
As if that wasn’t enough, the movie version of the first installment to author Mark Greaney’s ongoing espionage series is a pretty cozy concept for 007 fans to latch onto. If you’re hearing about this movie for the first time, here’s the official synopsis that Netflix has released along with the first footage:
“Dark agency secrets,” “a psychopathic former colleague,” and “a global manhunt” all invoke some of the greatest hits of James Bond storytelling. Off the top of my head, Skyfall comes to mind when reading those first two components, and it’s pretty clear who’s playing which part in this Netflix original film. Using that comparison, it looks like Ryan Gosling’s Court Gentry is the James Bond figure who’s stumbled upon these secrets; which means Chris Evans would be the Silva-esque “psychopathic former colleague” hunting him down. It certainly tracks with what The Russo Brothers have said about Evans’ character, so try reading that sentence and not getting excited to renew your Netflix subscription.
Amping up that excitement is the fact that Regé-Jean Page is having a ball as another potential villain, especially when you see that smirk on his face. There's still room for the possibility that he's just an advantageous bureaucrat who wants to rise in the ranks, and will grill Ana de Armas merely to get ahead. It could also mean that Ms. de Armas will get to show off even more action chops than she did in No Time to Die in order to subdue this potential threat; which only sends this film's stock soaring.
All of this Gray Man excitement means nothing if there isn’t Bond-caliber action being shown on the screen. You can crib your favorite storylines and include the hottest franchise adjacent stars all you want, and it would all fall apart if there’s no adrenaline boosting set pieces. Joe and Anthony Russo likely understand that, and their days working in the MCU have served them well, as they bring the same top notch action spectacle they’ve been delivering since Captain America: The Winter Soldier into The Gray Man.
In only 15 seconds, we’re given a visual package that shows three main beats to what we’re supposed to expect in this potential contender to the James Bond franchise. Add it all up, and this is what we’ve just seen in that brief window:
- Regé-Jean Page ready to interrogate Ana de Armas with a smirk on his face.
- Ryan Gosling fighting a man on top of a train, which is under siege by tons of SUV mounted firepower.
- A phone call between a pissed off Gosling and a gleefully evil Chris Evans.
Do I want to know more about what’s going on in The Gray Man? Without a doubt, as I’ve been following what we know about this Netflix original as it’s been released. Do I need more information to be on board with this movie? No, I don’t, as I’m already prepared to go read Mark Greaney’s book to test the waters. I’m also ready to ask random questions about what we have seen, in a bid to try and further distract myself from the fact that this movie doesn’t have a release date as of yet. So to close us out, I want to leave you all with this last debate topic: which of the men pictured below do you trust the least in the world of The Gray Man:
The time is right for those who want to operate in the world of espionage entertainment to make their move. The Gray Man is Netflix and The Russo Brothers’ effort to jump into the game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as James Bond is in-between faces. And it wasn’t enough to enlist Regé-Jean Page and Ana de Armas in the mission to secure the hearts, minds, and subscriptions of Bond fans.
Let’s not forget that we also have Knives Out 2 to look forward to, with Daniel Craig relishing in his own out of character wildness. Both films will hit Netflix at some point in 2022 as part of the many upcoming movies the year will have to offer. More importantly, in a year where the next move in the 007 legacy is still in development, the streaming studio has just given fans like me a way to indulge in their fandom, while also exploring the new and familiar.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.