Ironically, for a film that confronts obsolescence, Gemini Man sure feels like it belongs to the ‘90s. Directed by two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Director, Ang Lee, and starring Will Smith as a middle-aged assassin being chased by his younger clone, Gemini Man looks and feels like a relic from the era that gave us classics such as Face/Off and Enemy of the State.
It makes all the sense in the world for Smith to revisit his heyday as an actor, but was it wise of him to make a film that is the most literal metaphor for a movie star’s age catching up with them? Who knows?
When his character, Henry Brogan, learns that he betrayed by the government agency that uses him, he goes on a globe-trotting quest to learn the truth. His mission gets murkier when the shady agency deploys what seems like a younger, more agile lookalike to track him down and kill him.
Will Smith’s age catches up to him in Gemini Man
There is a scene in Gemini Man that will elicit the same reaction from the audience. It happens around the halfway mark, when Mary Elizabeth Winstead walks up to Will Smith and tells him that the guy who’s been chasing him; the guy with whom he had a gunfight in the previous scene, is his clone.
To considered entertaining, Gemini Man needed at least 30% better, or at least 20% worse. As it stands, it has none of the tongue-in-cheek joy of a ‘90s action-thriller, nor does it have the grounded realism of a post-9/11 blockbuster.
I can’t comment on the high frame-rate, but the digital de-aging they used on Smith is seamless. The second time in a row that trailers for his films presented a rather underwhelming glimpse at how digital techniques used to alter his appearance. But just like Aladdin, Smith’s CGI avatar in Gemini Man works.
Aside from two shots during a chase sequence in Colombia, in which both the elder Smith and Junior momentarily turn into gobs of rubber, the facial effects aren’t at all distracting. In fact, to the contrary, they help bring an added gravitas to the one-on-a confrontation between Henry and Junior.
Gemini Man stuck in development hell over the last two decades, with filmmakers such as Tony Scott and Curtis Hanson attached to direct a script that tampered with by at least half-a-dozen writers.
The result is a hodgepodge of not only tones and aesthetics but also ideas and voices. The stars have not aligned for Gemini Man.