Gemini Man Movie Review: Will Smith and Ang Lee are two great Hollywood personalities who are, right now, finding it difficult to get that one durable success. These days, Will Smith scores big when he is a starring name in a big studio project, say Disney's Aladdin or DC's Suicide Squad. But if a film depends on him to see it through, it's a different ballgame altogether, an insipid one at that. Ang Lee is considered a visionary filmmaker, whose grasp on technology has given us fantastic efforts like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi. He also does well with intrinsic human dramas like Lust, Caution and Brokeback Mountain. But there are also misfires like Hulk and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Unfortunately for Will Smith, his collaboration with Ang Lee - Gemini Man - belongs among the bad ones. Gemini Man New Trailer: Will Smith Tries to Save Will Smith as Jaden’s Song Icon Plays in the Cool New Footage (Watch).
Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is the best assassin working for the government, who can shoot down a target even if the latter is in a fast-paced moving train. Disillusioned with his life and not able to see himself in the mirror, Henry decides to hang up his boots after 72 kills. The agency, instead of allowing it, issues a hit order on him after Henry learns that his last target wasn't a terrorist, as he was told, but a scientist working at a shady lab called Gemini.
On the run, Henry is shocked when he comes across a younger version of himself, as one of his assassins, who seems to have mastered every move of his (while also getting to do Salman Khan-like stunts with a bike). There is also Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a government agent sent to spy on Henry but becomes his ally. And, Clay Varris (Clive Owen), the malevolent head of Gemini (does that make him the Gemini Man then?), who acts as a surrogate father to Henry's clone.
There was plenty to be excited about Gemini Man, apart from the coming together of Will Smith and Ang Lee for what is an interesting action thriller with sci-fi elements. The prospect of seeing Will Smith tackle his younger self is a pretty thrilling idea. Only that you have seen it before. Like in Rian Johnson's thrilling Looper, where a young assassin is tasked to kill his older self from the future.
Okay, I hear you... the protagonists in Looper were played by different actors (Joseph Gordon-Lewitt and Bruce Willis). Then what about Logan, where an older Wolverine faces a meaner younger clone of himself? Even Tom Cruise's Oblivion had played around with this theme.
Then there is the other aspect of the premise - the protagonist, a government agent, being hunted by his own agency, for going rogue. Now, where have I heard that before? In a scene in the film, Danny asks Henry if he has been chased by the government before. I could almost see Will Smith rolling his eyes on hearing that!
Okay, I know that it is very difficult to make an original idea work, but Gemini Man's real crime isn't the dollops of inspiration. It is the dullness of it all. The bland writing couldn't get the film work beyond making its one little USP into a scarcely thrilling affair (one of the writers is Game of Thrones's David Benioff. Man, does he have a bad year or what?). After an interesting start involving an assassination, Gemini Man gets a bit too talky for some time, before they remember to introduce the clone angle. But even after that, the film is littered with exposition dump and raising awkward questions about the moral implications about cloning and weaponising them. I mean, I had seen it done better in the Jurassic World series, and that was the lamest part about those movies. There is also a ridiculous subplot involving bees that would rank high up there with the 'Martha' twist of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
So what if the storytelling isn't the film's best part? The de-aging factor of Gemini Man should be great, right? Again, not a novel concept, since we have already seen Marvel play with this kind of CGI in a couple of their movies. Why, Hollywood even brought the late Peter Cushing back to 'life' in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In the days ahead, we will see de-aged Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. When the novelty is lost, you again depend on the special effects team to put their best efforts there and render an awesome product. But once again, it results in a very mixed bag of affairs. Not Just 'The Irishman', These 7 Movies Also Digitally De-aged Actors to Support the Story and Blew Our Minds.
In certain scenes, the de-aging looks excellent. Like during a fight scene between the two Will Smith's in a catacomb. Or when the younger Smith has an angry confrontation with his surrogate father. There are, however, occasions when you can really sense the CGI, especially in that truly awful final scene. During such moments, you think even Will Smith in his genie makeup from Aladdin looked more believable in comparison.
Watch The Trailer of Gemini Man:
Even on the action front, Gemini Man comes off as a disappointment. There is one great scene involving a bike chase in Columbia, that is thrilling (even if it ends rather poorly). But the rest of the action beats involves some very frenetic camerawork that is more distracting than the CGI on Will Smith's face. This is surprising since the man who directed Gemini Man, had given us some spell-binding action sequences in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - his best effort to date.
The one good reason to watch Gemini Man is Will Smith. The man is very convincing in both personas, even if his performance feels a little tiresome. Mind you, this has nothing to do with Smith playing a 51-year old retiring assassin (hey, didn't he play one in Suicide Squad too? Damn!). The rest of the cast is pretty okay.
- Will Smith
- The CGI, to some extent
- The Bike chase in Columbia
- The Flawed Screenplay
- Dull Effort
- The CGI, when not great, is distracting
Gemini Man is easily the most forgettable film in Ang Lee's career, though I cannot say the same about Will Smith's. What could have been an arresting concept and an exciting collaboration, is brought to the dust by some uninspired storytelling and inconsistent VFX. Disappointing!