'Gemini Man' Bends Minds but Story Suffers Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong
Published Oct 10, 2019Will Smith is back in his first leading role since David Ayer's Netflix fantasy film, Bright, as Henry Brogan, an extremely vigilant and prestigious government assassin on the cusp of retirement. Henry quickly becomes the target of a high-calibre operation where his enemy can predict every single thing he's going to do next, and it's not long before he and his team learn that this person is basically an accelerated and more talented version of Henry himself: he has been cloned.
The film has been put through development hell since 1997 and has had several directors and A-list actors attached to the project, including Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson until Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) signed on.
The most fascinating aspect here is the digital de-aging of Will Smith to make his younger counterpart look as if he walked straight off the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For some reason in the last scene, though, the CGI takes a horrible turn for the worse and looks like something out of an early 2000s PlayStation 2 game, showing great inconsistency that was fairly disappointing.
While Smith's performance isn't comparable to his turns in I Am Legend or The Pursuit of Happyness, his emotional performance in Gemini Man definitely hit home — specifically in a scene that his clone, Junior, shared with his dad (played by Clive Owen) during the climax of the film. The stand-out here is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays hitwoman Danny; her ferocious talent is admittedly underused, but her fierce, warrior-like energy is a breath of fresh air in the middle of all the testosterone.
Unfortunately, where the film starts to disappoint is with the banal and flat script, penned by Game of Thrones' David Benioff with Billy Ray and Darren Lemke. A lot of moments that could have been pivotal are sadly wasted. It seems as if they forgot to tie up a lot of loose ends that would have made the finale of the film a lot tighter and more well-rounded.
Although the script is its downfall, the action sequences are pretty great — specifically a long tracking shot of a motorcycle chase between Henry and Junior. There was also a really cool panoramic shot of a train speeding by at the beginning, which was definitely the highlight from the work done by cinematographer Dion Beebe.
Gemini Man is a pretty typical, solid action film, and an interesting effort by visionary director Lee.