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The Russo Brothers Should Be Banned

By Allyson Johnson | Film | April 21, 2023 |

By Allyson Johnson | Film | April 21, 2023 |


Avengers Infinity War is a good film, but it’s starting to feel like a fluke. With the recent news of director duo Joe and Anthony Russo threatening viewers with The Gray Man 2 (something we’ve all eagerly been waiting for I’m sure) it’s just another reminder that the bar is so low for certain (white, male) filmmakers.

In an interview with Collider, they said:

“We’re in the middle of it right now. We’re in the middle of working on The Gray Man 2 script, so, again, everything is about the story. We are hard at work, sleeves rolled up, and more to come soon.”

In disheartening news, the directors have envisioned this as an, ugh, cinematic universe since the jump. Considering its success on Netflix, there’s no surprise they’d want to capitalize on it.

With all of the cadence and style of a car commercial, The Gray Man was a nothing film, something to fill the silence so as to not be trapped with your thoughts while folding laundry or doing taxes or other menial tasks that fit the listless vibe of that film. And, not to yuck yums if you were someone who did enjoy The Gray Man, props to you, but it must’ve been a combination of Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas rather than the direction. The direction sling-shots the camera in bizarre and aimless aerial takes with a fondness for drone footage. There was no character, no charm, just someone who understood the mechanics of how to shoot a film but was in dire need of an artistic vision.

The Russo Brothers haven’t hidden their penchant for burying their flaws with overindulgent editing. One just has to look at Captain America: Winter Soldier and watch the elevator fight sequence where there are more cuts and edits than a Taken. Any style the two have is lost, and following output such as The Gray Man and the Tom Holland-led Cherry, it’s beginning to seem that any flourishes in their better films were due to Marvel’s strict adherence to a stipulated tone and style.

Their most recent project sees them as executive producers for Prime Video’s Citadel with Richard Madden. There’s a clear reverence for a specific type of spy-thriller, but their projects lack grit and grime, hiring physically fit actors to window dress what boils down to “Vanity Muscles, the Movie.” Their films might look nice, to a degree, but there’s no solid foundation to stand on.

They might have shown spark and talent in their early days as sitcom directors on cult favorites such as Arrested Development, but they also pinched their noses and handed us You, Me, and Dupree. Infinity War had genuine stakes and bold storytelling, but they also made the anti-cinematic decision to stage an enormous standoff on a tarmac in Captain America: Civil War. At this point in their career with financial stability and support from the industry to keep on funneling trash into the ether, they’re fighting their own worst instincts as directors and losing.

Maybe The Gray Man 2 will be better, but it probably won’t be. It’s just another grim reminder that white men in Hollywood can continue to fail upwards while showing little artistic quality, while marginalized voices need to prove themselves ten times over to even get a footstep through the door.

Just another day in Hollywood.