Depending on where you’re sitting, the admittedly-incredible “de-aging” tech used with Will Smith is either game changing or apocalyptic. That’s all there really is to talk about with this quagmire of a film. I’m sure there are worse ways to spend 2 hours than if you happen to catch it on streaming or a plane.
On paper, everything about Gemini Man makes sense. You’ve got Ang Lee, a master director of both action (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and technology (Life of Pi). You’ve got Will Smith, who can pull the international box office and is in shape enough to believably take on his younger self. And you’ve got the technology to finally make this movie happen (this is what stymied it back in the 90s).
Swirl that winning combination together and you get…well. Mostly nothing, other than a feeling of “but why?”
The technology is there, make no mistake. Will Smith hand-to-hand fighting young Will Smith (who I will refer to exclusively as Fresh Prince from now on) looks fantastic. It’s not perfect, but grading on the scale of Polar Express to young Tony Stark’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War to Princess Leia in Rogue One to now? Phenomenal.
But that’s only the gimmick, and a movie needs more than that. And it simply doesn’t have more to give. The plot is overly simplistic, likely having something to do with being in development for 2 decades.
The strange 120 FPS cinematography and actual stunt work give the illusion of gritty-real action à la John Wick, but without the substance to back it up. The end result oscillates between kind of interesting (Mary Elizabeth Winstead lighting a fight scene between Smith and Fresh Prince with only a flashlight) and an amateurish cool guy YouTube video (jumping motor bikes in Colombia).
But it’s biggest failing is it’s lack of coherent theme. What is this movie about? It doesn’t know. Questions of nature vs. nurture, concepts of true self, and fatherhood tropes are bandied around, but to no real effect. Gemini Man can’t decide what it wants to say.
Unfortunately, that leaves the audience with nothing more than the cool-factor of seeing Will Smith talk to the Fresh Prince.
Interesting, perhaps even groundbreaking, yes. But nothing more.
Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.