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The Gray Man Reviews Are In, And Critics Can’t Stop Talking About Chris Evans’ Villain Despite Mixed Reactions To The Netflix Flick

Ever since Chris Evans showed up in The Gray Man trailer to make life hell for Ryan Gosling’s CIA operative Court Gentry, audiences have been excited to see The Avengers actor’s turn as villain Lloyd Hansen. The Russo brothers’ adaptation of Mark Greaney’s book will be available to Netflix subscribers, and with the famed directors’ knack for bringing fun characters to life amidst thrilling action sequences, fans have hoped they’re in for a treat from the impressively mustachioed Evans. Well, the reviews are in, and indeed they’ve all got something to say about how The Gray Man turned “America’s Ass” into “America’s Asshole”

First reactions to the movie seemed promising, with early screenings prompting a lot of praise for both Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling (as well as the supporting cast). Let’s take a look at what critics are saying about Evans’ “trainwreck of a human being” Lloyd Hansen and the movie overall. We’ll start with the CinemaBlend review of The Gray Man, which Mike Reyes rates an impressive 4.5 stars out of 5. He praises the movie’s nonstop action and witty scripting, and says that even alongside a fully committed and impressive cast, Evans is a show-stealer: 

Lloyd Hansen is a fantastically villainous foil to Court Gentry, and Evans digs into this enterprise with a knife and fork in hand. Every threat, every put down, and every angry outburst is a treat to behold. If Kevin Kline’s comedic hitman from A Fish Called Wanda had a more menacing brother who actually did work for the clandestine services, it’d be Chris Evans’ Lloyd.

Peter Debruge of Variety agrees this big-budget summer blockbuster puts on a spectacular fireworks display, with Chris Evans as “flamboyantly over-the-top” as Ryan Gosling is understated. If the story is a little lacking, the film makes up for it with its cast, this review says:

There’s nothing terribly original about the storytelling. Take a little of Shooter, a lot of John Wick, add a dash of Jason Bourne, shaken (but not stirred) into the license-to-kill formula, and you’ve got the basic idea. What makes The Gray Man exciting — and let’s not beat around the bush: This is the most exciting original action property Netflix has delivered since Bright — are the shades the ensemble bring to their characters and the little ways in which the Russos come through where those other films fell short.

Pete Hammond of Deadline calls Chris Evans’ role “game-changing” and says he proves he has the chops to pull off more challenging characters like Lloyd Hansen in style:

After starring as the heroic and stoic Captain America in several movies including both Avengers finales for the Russos, audiences will be surprised at this side of Evans, but he nails it. The teaming of Gosling and Evans plus a superior supporting cast make this one of the Russo Brothers’ best flicks, an entertaining ride that is full of chases, fights and explosions but, more importantly, strong character development and a script that actually is far wittier than it has any right to be.

Hoai-Tran Bui of SlashFilm rates The Gray Man just 5 out of 10 and says the finished piece is less than the sum of its parts. This review says the “Tom Clancy knock-off” plot is salvaged only by its cast:

The saving grace is in the core performers — Gosling might be wasted for all his talents, but he's at least always magnetic to watch even if he seems like he's just on the cusp of having fun. … Evans is a standout too, chewing up his scenes with glee, even though the film makes the strange decision of sticking him behind a monitor to shout things like ‘Make him dead!’ for half of the film.

Some critics, however, say even the actors’ charm doesn’t save this one, with Siddhant Adlakha of IGN also rating The Gray Man a “Mediocre” 5 out of 10. In a movie that has “no unifying vision,” this critic says Chris Evans doesn’t leave a lasting impression, despite those fashion moments. From the review:

Evans’ Hansen is touted as a sociopath, but he’s less intimidating than Dear Evan Hansen; perhaps Evans is too straightforward a performer, or perhaps there was little provided by the writers and directors for him to tap into, with regards to the character’s diabolical villainy. The contrast between his vicious M.O. and his loafers and designer casual-wear comes off as aggressively plain rather than intriguing, given the broad nothingness of his demeanor.

If you are excited to see the cat-and-mouse game between Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, you don’t have to wait too long (or go too far). The Gray Man will hit Netflix on Friday, July 22, after a limited theatrical release on Friday, July 15. Be sure to check out some of the other best movies on Netflix, and you can also get a jump on planning your next trip to the theater by taking a peek at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule, and even see what films are coming our way in 2023.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.