We’re in late July and the films keep on coming. It was a busy week, but I had time for a pair of documentaries and the latest from the Russo brothers. All my takes are below! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
The Day the Music Died (Paramount+)
Synopsis: You’d be hard pressed to find someone that hasn’t heard the song “American Pie” in some context, whether the version from original creator Don McLean or others who’ve sung the song. It’s become a piece of American culture and music, and this new documentary on Paramount+ chronicles the song and its cultural impact over the past 50 years. It includes interviews, celebrations and a look at the time when the song was written and the time that inspired the iconic lyrics. It’s a fun and interesting look at this piece of American culture that will appeal to fans and those who have a casual knowledge alike.
The Gray Man (Netflix)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, and Rege-Jean Page
Synopsis: As filmmakers, Joe and Anthony Russo have delivered some of the most memorable Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Endgame, among others. But their films outside the MCU haven’t hit quite as well. With The Gray Man, an ambitious action film based on the novel from Mark Greaney, they have another star-studded action piece. This one also includes a former player from the MCU in Evans, this time morphing from Captain America to the villain. Here, the story focuses on Six (Gosling), a criminal recruited from prison by the CIA to do the jobs they can’t take credit for. He excels in his position until he’s placed on a mission that doesn’t make sense. When his new boss (Page) turns on him, he turns to the man that recruited him (Thornton) and a fellow agent (de Armas) to make things right. The Russo brothers seem drawn to big stories with lavish action sequences, which is what we get here. In fact, at times it feels like more action sequences than are needed. The third act, in particular, feels like it has multiple endings, which indicates a bit of a weakness in script development. However, the strong cast and the fun performances do enough to redeem the weaknesses here. Gosling is great in the lead role, and I enjoy Evans as a villain, something he excelled at in Knives Out as well. There’s enough fun here with this cast and the story that it works as a fun summer action film. There was potential for more, but it’s fine landing in that space. If you’re looking for depth, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re willing to kick back and enjoy the ride, this works fine.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of strong violence, and strong language.
The Only (Paramount+)
Synopsis: Another documentary on Paramount, this one focused on former U.S. Women’s National Team goal keeper Briana Scurry. The film focuses on Scurry, her childhood and inspiration, and her career. It focuses on her time playing at the highest level of women’s soccer and her life after that. In addition to celebrating one of the more unsung heroes from that American team, the film looks at the meteoric rise of the women’s team and its impact on culture. There were Gold medals, World Cup championships and much more. As someone who remembers watching that team during my teens and early 20s, it was a fun walk down memory lane that also serves as a celebration of Scurry and her achievements. For sports fans, it’s a fun documentary that’s a quick and easy watch.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.