This is the most expensive film in Netflix history. After this avenger and Captain AmericaAnthony and Joe Russo decided to adapt it from an action novel and they chose Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas to translate it into pictures.
• Also read: “The Gray Man”: It doesn’t stop for a second
The Russo Brothers’ track record is impressive to say the least. After taking over the continuation of the saga from avenger and from Captain America — after a first installment directed by Joss Wheedon — the two men have amassed billions of dollars in box office receipts. You are now the third highest-grossing director to have a film grossing over $2 billion at the box office, behind James Cameron and JJ Abrams.
It was also during the filming of Captain America: The Winter Soldierreleased in 2014 which Anthony and Joe Russo wanted to wear The gray man, a novel by Mark Greaney, on the big screen. And it took nine years for the wish to become a reality. The project was launched back in 2011, James Gray was set to direct it with Brad Pitt in the lead role, then Charlize Theron took an interest in it before the Russo brothers chose Ryan Gosling as this prison-recruited CIA agent. Court Gentry, aka Sierra Six, is part of a division that doesn’t officially exist. The man is a shadow whose job it is to kill on orders from his superiors until one day he learns that his hierarchy is corrupt. Assisted by another agent, Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), he is relentlessly pursued by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), one of his former colleagues, a psychopath hired by his bosses.
A formula for success…
If the Russo brothers chose Ryan Gosling, it’s because the 41-year-old comedian, who was born in London, Ontario, had several interesting qualities. “He trained to be a dancer from a young age, so he has incredible control over his body. […] We thought of him pretty quickly. He is the master of minimalism. If you’re looking for an actor who can disappear behind his character, who can levitate in and out of space, who can be anonymous, calm, controlled, disciplined… well, Ryan has all those qualities. But at the same time, as a character, he has a very rich inner life, he can be entertaining and charismatic. I remember when we first thought of him, we couldn’t think of anyone after that,” Anthony Russo told American media.
Accustomed to Marvel blockbusters, the Russo brothers drew on their memories The gray man in pictures, in pictures. “We were inspired by the suspenseful ‘thrillers’ we grew up with. As the film contains themes of rebellion against a complex political system, we have reflected on our own fears about the state of the world today. Because of the film’s particular genre, we wanted to create a world that viewers could immerse themselves in,” the two men explained on social media.
Apparently, The gray man is a rolling firework of action scenes. “What we liked about the novel is the inventiveness and the fact that there is no let-up. And we wanted to make a movie that would make us forget about eating popcorn. At Marvel, you shoot about four big action scenes per movie and you have to be mentally prepared for those moments. But there, at four, we weren’t even halfway through the movie,” said Joe Russo.
To ensure the quality of their feature film, the Russo brothers neglect no detail. “It takes about a year to plan the action scenes. Once the scene is thought through, written and rewritten and rewritten, we work on it with our team. We get feedback from the concept artists who draw the storyboards. Then we work with animators who do what’s called “pre viz” animation.”
“We will see the stunt teams with whom we will study the movements during filmed rehearsals. We’re making changes and improvements, explained Anthony Russo. It’s a great process that allows us to dream, test our ideas, refine them, make them better. Once you are on set everything has to be ready because everything is very expensive. Sometimes you only use a location in a city for a very limited time, so you have to get the shot the first time.
“So there’s a lot of months where we design the action scene before we film it. Then when we’re shooting, Joe and I like to review what we’ve filmed, go back to the editor and consider the possibility of improving certain elements. Then we go into the editing room for a few more months.”
“We do some scenes again, too,” said Joe Russo. Deliver a movie like The gray man is endless work.
The two directors are excited about the release of this film, which was the most expensive in Netflix history at $200 million. “It’s the easiest studio to work with. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before and it’s a very enjoyable experience as an artist.”
And the digital platform’s famous algorithm, which is used to calculate the number of hits and thus the success or failure of a feature film or series?
“The algorithm doesn’t say, ‘This is the kind of film you should be making.’ The algorithm says, “Here’s the type of movie we should offer audiences, based on what they’re looking for. Rather, it’s a programming tool used by Netflix after the fact. It has nothing to do with the content of the movie to do, at least not in our experience.”
The gray man is available on Netflix since July 22nd.