Gemini Man Review: All style and not much substance
This Will Smith-starrer ticks off all the cliches one expects in a spy-thriller but offers nothing new, and ends up as just a tiring watch
Be it family bonding and inter-generational conflict in films such as The Ice Storm and Taking Woodstock, or nature and humans vying to hold the reins in Life of Pi, or action as graceful as a ballet in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or the carnage in Hulk, director Ang Lee's work covers the gamut. The three-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker's latest project, the Will Smith-starring Gemini Man, is a mish-mash of his favourite themes. However, this is a film that has been in the works since the late 90s, and unfortunately, its age is evident in this wannabe action-thriller that offers nothing new.
Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong
Director: Ang Lee
Gemini Man follows the story of Henry Brogan (Smith), an ageing government assassin who just wants to hang up his boots as he has had enough of the bloodshed — so much that he is repulsed by just the sight of a dead body. With 72 confirmed kills under his belt and skilled enough to take down a fast-moving target, this man who has seen so much violence now says he is "finding [himself] avoiding mirrors." Fate has other ideas for Brogan when a top-secret black ops unit codenamed GEMINI sends a clone of himself to take him down as he has become a liability. For someone who despises his own mirror image, Brogan has to save himself from an assailant who looks just like his younger version.
Unfortunately for fans of Smith as well as Lee, the creativity ends right there, and the rest of the film gives us only a been-there-seen-that flavour. The proceedings are extremely predictable and too elementary. As with any thriller involving government agents, we see the crew, also comprising of Brogan's new ally Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and long-time friend Baron (Benedict Wong), travelling various countries in order to get to the bottom of their problem — something which I was able to figure out without leaving the comfort of my theatre seat.
Gemini Man ticks off all the cliches one expects in a spy-thriller, including a dig at Russia. In one scene, a Russian character says that a government taking down one of their own guys is a huge deal for the Americans but, "back in Russia, we call it Tuesday." Evil government organisations, patriotic serviceman going rogue, the semi-bad guy becoming the good guy, you've got them all.
The action sequences are tad better, and there are quite a few of these. The dirt-bike chase sequence stands out from the rest which are predominantly filled with shots of people emptying their gun magazines. The first-person shots in such sequences though make the film look like a high-resolution game played on the yet-to-be-released PlayStation 5. After employing the extra-high frame rate of 120 fps for the first time in the 2016 fiasco Long Halftime Walk, Lee does the same for the action sequences here, making them look extremely unnatural. As if watching two similar-looking guys taking it out on each other wasn't enough!
Lee's strength, the exploration of the emotional aspects of characters, is nowhere to be found in Gemini Man. A scene where Brogan's clone, Junior (a weird-looking de-aged Smith) tells Danny to strip as he turns around because he was "raised with respect" was the final nail in this coffin. With a script that never lives up to the promise of its one-liner, this film is essentially a tiring watch. If only there was technology advanced enough to save the innocent audience from a bad film.