Wondering what to watch? After some time away — the actor was last seen onscreen in 2018’s First Man — Ryan Gosling returns to the big screen in the spy action thriller The Gray Man, a Netflix project much talked about for the size of its budget. Enjoying only a brief cinematic window, the film now makes its way to Netflix this weekend.
At the same time, people looking to catch up on the finer works of the actor’s impressive filmography find themselves with a new opportunity to do so with the arrival of the sad but grandiose Blade Runner 2049 arriving on iPlayer. It's the perfect opportunity to catch up with not just one but two stars of The Gray Man, which reunites Gosling with Ana de Armas, who played his AI companion in Blade Runner.
Read more: New on Paramount+ in July
At the same time, a more subtle genre drama lands on Disney+ in the form of Personal Shopper.
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The Gray Man (2022) - Netflix
The latest huge-budget action film from directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the last two Avengers films, the Russo brothers’ The Gray Man shows little in the way of any development from directors who by now should be veterans of genre cinema — the very title The Gray Man betrays a lack of identity beyond that of its leads.
Speaking of: the film marks a return to the screen for Ryan Gosling after a brief hiatus, pitted against Chris Evans in a chase across the globe. While it’s fun that Evans gets to turn heel, it feels like a waste to only have him square off in person with the more taciturn, beautifully deadpan Gosling, who amusingly bristles with anger at most interactions in the film, though maintaining a sense of loss throughout.
Watch: Go behind the scenes on The Gray Man
Gosling’s character goes by ‘Six’, a hired gun for the CIA picked out from a federal penitentiary, his cushy job overturned when his employers turn on him and sic a sociopathic former cohort Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) on him, who is particularly nonplussed about however much collateral damage he causes along the way.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in July
Despite some creative action design, the Russos themselves seem incapable of lensing it with equal zest, with one lean hospital fistfight a highlight. The weightless drone camerawork that frequently interrupts does them no favours either, making the film feel quite literally on autopilot.
Despite this there’s some fun to be had when things occasionally coalesce, between its star power and muscular action choreography and occasional wit, but The Gray Man, despite the remarkable number of zeroes on its budget ($200m), just feels like any other action movie.
Also on Netflix: The Father (2020), My Village People (2021)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - BBC iPlayer (Pick of the week)
Perhaps before tuning in to his return from brief hiatus with The Gray Man, it’s worth looking back at one of the last times Ryan Gosling graced the big screen, with Denis Villeneuve’s astonishing Blade Runner 2049, a belated ‘legacy’ sequel to Ridley Scott’s game-changing Philip K Dick adaptation.
Set thirty years after the events of the first film, Villeneuve’s film follows a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Gosling), who unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to upend what remains of a dwindling, squalid earth.
Read more: Everything new on Prime Video in July
Gosling gives his trademark stoicism a tragic and quiet loneliness, a 'warm-blooded robot' as AO Scott called him in a past review. Villeneuve and favoured director of photography Roger Deakins give the dystopian future LA a sense of ruined grandeur.
With co-star Ana de Armas as the AI hologram Joi, Villeneuve’s film follows two people programmed to be incapable of feeling love but happen to love each other anyway, the sincerity of the their burgeoning relationship a surprising high point of a film of an impressively glacial pace.
Also on iPlayer: Monsters Inc (2001), Magic Mike (2012)
Personal Shopper (2016) - Disney+
A landmark in Kristen Stewart’s post-Twilight acting career, Personal Shopper by Olivier Assayas reunites the director and actor after their work on Clouds of Sils Maria for a character study that shows off the best of Stewart’s elusive charm.
Starring Stewart as the eponymous assistant, who refuses to leave Paris until she makes contact of some kind with her twin brother, who previously died there. That contact eventually — apparently — arrives when a mysterious person contacts her via text message, someone who claims to be her dead brother.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in July
Personal Shopper isn’t overly supernatural or spooky rather than quietly so, more about finding a sense of spirituality in an increasingly removed and digitised age. It’s also about loss, Stewart subtly showing a person in turmoil just beneath the surface.
So she immediately welcomes this contact, due to having become something of a ghost herself, moving through empty houses and quietly down backstreets, and Assayas isolates the character to an extent that the nuances of Stewarts performance become louder amongst her quiet surroundings.
Also on Disney+: Flee (2021), The Bob’s Burgers Movie (2022)