If you aren’t one of the people who helped to clock 88 million hours of viewing for "The Gray Man" on Netflix, you’ve probably at least heard of it. Ryan Gosling stars in the movie as Court Gentry, codename Sierra Six, a man sprung from jail to carry out the CIA’s dirty work. He’s part of an elite unit known as Sierra — a group of hardened criminals chosen for their skill set, lack of family, and plausible deniability.
In this espionage film directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and based on Mark Greaney’s book series of the same name, we follow Sierra Six after he’s received some incriminating intel about one of his bosses, agency Group Chief Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page). As a result, Carmichael has no choice but to hire sociopathic independent assassin Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to take Sierra Six down.
With so many car chases, hand-to-hand fights, explosions, and witty banter, you won’t catch every detail in the film your first time through. Here are some things that may have gotten past you in "The Gray Man" while you were admiring Lloyd’s loafers.
We never get the full Winky’s Cantina story
In the opening scene of "The Gray Man," we’re introduced to Court Gentry. Court’s been in a Florida prison since 1995, with a lot of years on his sentence still ahead of him. The year is 2003 when Agent Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) pays him a visit. Fitzroy offers Court the chance to walk out to freedom with him at that moment — all he has to do is agree to kill "bad guys" for the CIA.
Court becomes a disposable Sierra agent, his former identity destroyed, who exists "in the gray." Much like his future existence, this first sequence is shrouded in mystery. The details of Court’s past are cloudy, and neither he nor the audience is sure if Fitzroy can be trusted. But most of all, who’s Winky, and what happened to his cantina?
The first line of the whole film comes from Court, who says, "If this is about Winky’s Cantina, I didn’t have anything to do with it." He continues by saying that he likes honey buns, but "not enough to gouge someone’s eye out for one." It’s certainly a curious way to start things off, and the story isn’t returned to for the rest of the movie. Maybe it’s a simple ruse by Court, or maybe the sequel will finally explain what happened at Wionky’s Cantina.
Fitzroy used the same bubble gum icebreaker with Sierra 4
Right before Sierra Six and Sierra Four (Callan Mulvey) square off in "The Gray Man," Four reveals that he’s also a Sierra agent — that Six has been sent to kill one of his own. This news doesn’t seem to affect Six, as he completes his mission by delivering a fatal blow. With his dying breath, and to prove he’s authentic, Four tells how Fitzroy also recruited him to join the agency. We then get a quick flashback of Four in handcuffs taking bubble gum from Fitzroy as he goes over his file. It’s the same offering Fitzroy gives Six when they first meet in the Florida prison.
Was it also Bubbalicuous Watermelon Wave? We’re not sure. But the flashback suggests that Fitzroy had his recruitment process down to a science. If the convict doesn’t take the gum, is that a red flag? Is the offer to join Sierra then rescinded? Who doesn’t enjoy bubble gum with a flavorful burst of watermelon?
Six evades questions but he doesn’t lie
Before his death, Sierra Four informs Six of the reason he was sent to kill one of his own. He has information that proves some of the agency leaders have been behaving badly. One of those leaders is agency Group Chief Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page), who’s part of the new regime that’s basically forced out the original leaders who created the Sierra program. As Four is dying, he forces Six to take his necklace, which hides a flash drive with all the intel he needs to bring down the corrupt leadership.
Six confirms with Carmichael that the target has been eliminated. Carmichael, knowing what’s on the flash drive, is clearly agitated, and he starts asking Six about his exchange with "the target." "Did the target say anything to you?" he asks. "Did you get anything off his body?" Six never gives a straight answer, but he doesn’t flat-out lie either. He simply avoids the questions and steers the conversation his way.
This is a common theme with the character. He’s not one to give up information unnecessarily, but he also isn’t a liar. The original Sierra leaders, Fitzroy and Margaret Cahill (Alfre Woodard), are the only ones who always get a truthful answer from him. Whether his lying-without-lying is a skill that comes with being a super secret agent, or if it’s just who Court is, is unclear.
Carmichael didn’t wash his hands
During one scene in "The Gray Man," Suzanne Brewer (Jessica Henwick) barges into the men’s bathroom to finish a conversation with Carmichael, who’s doing his business in the last stall. "Why is it always the last stall?" she asks, prompting a response about Al Capone and being able to see everything (even though he’s enclosed within four walls).
As Carmichael leaves the stall, the pair squabble about his choice to bring in "sociopath" Lloyd Hansen to deal with Sierra Six. Carmichael walks over to the sink during the exchange, but neither soap nor water actually touch his hands. He has a tantrum with the paper towels, fixes his shirt cuffs, but never runs the water. To be fair, the scene cuts before he leaves the bathroom, but it doesn’t look good for his cleanliness reputation. If you weren’t fully sold yet on Carmichael being an evil villain, his questionable hygiene habits surely push him over the edge.
How does Chris Evans truly feel about cats?
Recently retired Donald Fitzroy knows all about Lloyd Hansen and his checkered past with the CIA. Lloyd was relieved of his duties for things like bad ethics, zero impulse control, and unsanctioned torture. But it looks like all of those qualities ultimately helped Lloyd to become an entrepreneur. He’s the guy the agency calls to do the dirty work. Fitzroy makes a snide comment about Lloyd spending his time strangling cats because the private sector doesn’t pay that well, to which Lloyd replies, "Who likes cats?"
If you’ve ever glanced at Chris Evans’ Instagram page, you’re probably aware of his dog Dodger and how much he adores him. But does that mean that he’s anti-cat in real life? During a 2017 interview with Parade, Evans discussed his feline co-star in the film "Gifted." "I’m not a cat person," he said. "I respect cats, I think they’re beautiful creatures. I just don’t think they like me." Of course, Evans’ thoughts on cats are much, much milder than those of his "Gray Man" character. In reality, the line in the film has nothing to do with Evans, but rather is a subtle reference to another Netflix original. In a Still Watching Netflix interview, the Russo brothers revealed that the line is meant as a nod to the disturbing Netflix documentary "Don’t F**k With Cats." "It’s really a reference to sociopathy," Joe Russo said.
Cahill’s not so Lucky Strike
Two years prior to the main story of "The Gray Man," someone leaked Donald Fitzroy’s personal information, which made his niece Claire (Julia Butters) a potential target. At the time, Margaret Cahill was the bureau chief, so she had the authority to put Sierra Six on security detail for Claire. There’s a brief scene of Six, Fitzroy, and Cahill discussing the assignment, which takes place in Cahill’s London office.
During the scene, Cahill is shown sitting at her desk smoking. If you look closely, you can see two big boxes of Lucky Strike cigarettes directly in front of her on the desk. Jump ahead to the movie’s present day where we meet a retired Margaret, and a slow pan of her home reveals prescription medicine bottles and an oxygen tank. It’s pretty clear that Cahill’s heavy smoking ultimately led to a struggle with Cancer, and we’re told that she only has three months to live. This plot point is supposed to make it easier to accept when she sacrifices herself in order to save Six and Miranda. Even though her screen time is minimal, Woodard apparently had a great time working on the film. to work on the film. how excited she was to do an espionage film. "When they said the Russo Brothers are sending you something, I was very excited," the actor revealed in an interview with A.frame. "Then I read it and it reads as exciting as it plays."
Does Six have an oral fixation?
When we first see Sierra Six in Bangkok, he’s sitting at a table in the middle of a party. He snacks on some hors d’oeuvres and keeps the toothpick to chew on until he’s forced to chase down his target. Throughout the film, he can be seen doing a lot of random snacking and sporadic gum chewing. When he enters the Fitzroy Hong Kong home, he’s immediately chastised by Claire about chewing gum, who declares, "We don’t chew gum in this house." Since it’s her uncle who seems to have a penchant for Bubbalicious, it’s not entirely clear who made that rule.
It’s possible to read Six’s penchant for snacking and chewing as a kind of oral fixation — an idea in Freudian psychology that’s theoretically connected to childhood neglect (per Healthline). Of course, the idea of oral fixation, like Freud’s larger theory of psychosexual development, is viewed as pretty problematic and unsubstantiated by many modern psychologists. Still, in the context of fiction, it can make for an interesting character trait. We don’t get a lot of backstory on Six’s childhood, but we do know that it was far from happy. Maybe that has something to do with his love of gum, or maybe he just likes snacking.
Six and Claire have callbacks to each other
When Six agrees to look after Claire, they manage to form a real bond in the short time they have together. Saving a person’s life twice tends to do that. After he successfully rushes Claire to the hospital during his time acting as her bodyguard, she tosses Six the "rock on" sign. When she’s safely back home, Six asks how she’s doing, to which she replies, "Just another Thursday." Shortly after that exchange, someone breaks into the house, and Six has to go to work. Claire comes out of her room while Six is engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the would-be assassin, and when the intruder is out of commission, she asks if Six is alright. "Just another Thursday," he replies.
Later in the film, Lloyd takes Claire hostage. He finally lets her go after baiting in Six, who urges Claire to go meet up with Miranda to keep her safe. When Claire shows just how terrified she is, Six calms her down by once again saying that "this is just another Thursday." This dynamic carries on to the very end of "The Gray Man" when Claire is being held captive again by Carmichael and Brewer. Six breaks into the house and leaves one of Claire’s favorite records ("Silver Bird" by Mark Lindsey) with instructions to play it loud. She immediately realizes that only he would know to do this and that everything’s going to be okay.
There’s only one watch for Sierra Six
Through the course of his travels, Sierra Six goes through several different outfits and states of well-being. The one thing that he doesn’t change or destroy is his watch. Specifically, his steel TAG Hauer Carrera Three Hands watch. It’s quite impressive how the watch withstands all of the explosions and falls Six has to endure. In a press release for TAG Hauer, Ryan Gosling stated, "Six is an agent whose life is on the line, every second of the day and he needs a watch that’s got him covered" (per Rolling Stone).
Gosling has officially signed on to be the new face of TAG Hauer, his first brand ambassadorship ever. The "Drive" actor told The Hollywood Reporter the Carrera is his favorite watch because it’s "practical" and "elegant." And the reason behind the watch being a perfect fit for Sierra Six? Gosling calls the character "An analog hero in a digital world. He doesn’t have any gadgets. He doesn’t rely on tech." According to a TAG Hauer rep, the Carrera is "the only watch that can keep up with the Gray Man" (per Esquire). Of course, as a face of the brand now, it behooves Gosling to speak highly of the watch, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still look sharp in the film.
Agent Miranda got from Berlin to Vienna fast
There must be some perks to make the whole CIA thing worthwhile. Maybe one of them is being able to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. Early in "The Gray Man," Agent Miranda (Ana de Armas) is in Berlin being accused of protecting Six, even though she barely knows him. While Carmichael is suspending her from field duty, he gets a text that Six is in Vienna. Being the skilled spy that she is, Miranda reads the text in the reflection of his glasses and forms a plan. Right after Six blows up an apartment, loses a shoe, and is about to get shot by Lloyd, Miranda saves the day by hitting the assassin with a tranquilizer dart.
At this point, Miranda is rouge. She’s been suspended from fieldwork, and surely her travel privileges have been revoked. Sure, Berlin and Vienna aren’t too far apart in the grand scheme of things, but it would still take at least a few hours to make it all happen. The speed with which Miranda arrives at Six’s location is really only believable if she walked out of Carmichael’s office and right onto a plane. The specifics of her travel plan are some of the many unanswered questions in "The Gray Man," but it just seems a bit hard to imagine that she’d end up in the exact right place at the exact right time.
Put a bullet in this Ken doll
As "The Gray Man" progresses, Lloyd finds it increasingly difficult to kill Six, which really starts to anger him. In Prague, after Cahill blows up her home, it seems that Six is cornered. There are police as well as several groups of assassins all trying to apprehend him. And yet, he still manages to come out on top. There’s a multitude of innocent bystanders caught in the wake of Lloyd’s hubris, and with no regard for the collateral damage, he gives permission to shoot anyone who gets in the way. Getting more and more frustrated with Six evading death and capture, Lloyd calmly offers "an extra $10 million to the first guy to put a bullet in this Ken doll’s brain."
Ryan Gosling’s next big project after "The Gray Man" is quite a different one, playing Ken in Greta Gerwig’s live-action "Barbie" movie. The "Gray Man" line may then seem like a cheeky jab at Gosling’s bleached-blonde role, but it’s actually pure coincidence. "Shockingly, that line pre-dated his involvement in that movie," director Joe Russo told Screen Rant. "We tried several alts when we shot [that scene]." After testing out several other takes during editing, they just found the Ken line to be the "funniest."
Director Joe Russo makes a cameo
Lots of film lovers are excited by cameos, and the Russo brothers are no different. In 2014, the duo directed "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and they’ve noted on Instagram that the fight on the freeway is one of their "favorite fight sequences while working with Marvel." It wasn’t just the technical nature of the sequence that made it a favorite; the fact that they snuck quite a few friends and family members into the scene may have played into that as well.
Joe Russo himself has also managed cameos in several different MCU films. This may now just be something to expect from the director. Russo shows up at the end of "The Gray Man" as well, playing one of the executive CIA agents. Once all the dust has settled, Russo’s character can be seen at a conference table telling Carmichael, Miranda, and Suzanne Brewer that he doesn’t know how to defend their actions. Russo told Screen Rant that the main reason he keeps doing the cameos is for his kids, who are "entertained" by seeing him pop up in the movies.