Gemini Man - Great lead and great action let down by a lacklustre script
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
3 out of 5
When I first saw the trailer for this film and the title, I wondered if it was a remake of the old TV series starring Ben Murphy. If you remember that, you’ll remember how Ben’s character went invisible at the touch of a button on his digital watch. And if you remember all that, then you are as old as me!
Other than the title and it sitting in the science fiction genre, this film has nothing to do with invisibility or digital watches. For the curious among you, here’s the original Gemini Man
Director Ang Lee who brought us Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and, more recently, Life of Pi brings us a Will Smith action/thriller vehicle. Along the way Lee gets to play with new toys: High Frame Rate cinematography and a young Will Smith. The script is is a three-way effort and the most notable name among them is David Benioff, most famous for adapting and co-writing Game of Thrones.
The story is simple enough. Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite assassin for some covert US Government Agency who has completed his last mission and wants to retire. He becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, he soon learns that the man who's trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself. Along the way he recruits help from an old army buddy (played by Benedict Wong) and another agent sent to monitor him during his retirement (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The evil overlord, sorry boss of the shadowy organisation trying to take down our Will is played by Clive Owen.
Let’s talk about what went wrong. The script is simply awful. The plotting is all over the place. Motivations are not always clear. There are too many shadowy characters who pop in and out and never have their story arcs explained or concluded. When Smith’s character meets his clone, his clone betrays his adopted father quicker than Henry Cavill or Ben Affleck can say “Martha”.
The HFR cinematography is good and not too distracting. The biggest distraction is the technology used to de-age Will Smith. Moving away from the technology used to de-age actors in recent Marvel films or Robert de Niro in Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman, Lee uses a motion capture performance and it doesn’t work. It looks like someone else is wearing Will Smith’s face - and not in a good way.
The action is good and Will Smith can hold his own. The motorcycle scene is the best bit and is probably the only reason to see this film.