GEMINI MAN – Two Will Smiths for the Price of One

What’s better than one Will Smith? For Smith fans it’s two Will Smiths. Ang Lee returns with double Fresh Prince and technical experimentation in film making that pushes a lot of boundaries. Kernel Elie headed along last week to review GEMINI MAN and shares his thoughts below.

GEMINI MAN is rated M and runs for 117mins. It is released by Paramount Pictures. Enjoy Elie’s thoughts on the film…….all the best……Salty.

Gemini Man Will Smith image
Will Smith

BY ELIE ELKORR

GEMINI MAN SYNOPSIS:

Henry Brogan is an elite 51-year-old assassin who’s ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans get turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, Brogan soon learns that the man who’s trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.

Gemini Man Clive Owen image
Clive Owen

TWO FRESH PRINCES:

Will Smith has established himself as one of the most likeable and charismatic actors around. It’s just so difficult not to like the guy. Smith’s on-screen energy and charm is always a joy to watch, and in GEMINI MAN, it’s the same case. However, GEMINI MAN has two Will Smith’s; even better! Sure, the ‘other’ Will Smith is a complete digital model crafted by over 500 visual effects artists from Weta Digital, but it still counts. Banter aside Will Smith is once again the standout in GEMINI MAN. Smith’s snappy quips and undeniable charisma adds flair to what is a mostly bland and predictable film. Even when the script bows down to the emotionally resonating moments, Smith gives it his all.

There is a lot left to be desired when it comes to the supporting cast in GEMINI MAN. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is undoubtedly the best out of a paper-thin cut bunch. Winstead and Smith have great on-screen chemistry, and their relationship turns out to be quite charming. Benedict Wong is always a lovable presence however his character is only in the film to get our characters from point A to B. Apart from cracking a few jokes (which do not all land), Wong is reduced to being a chauffeur….wasted. Clive Owen as the antagonist is as generic as it gets. A one-dimensional cliched villain whose militant mindset prevents him from acknowledging the stupidity of his ‘master plan,’ which is basically what the Republic accomplished in ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

Gemini Man Will Smith and Will Smith image
Will Smith and Will Smith

ANG LEE’S TECHNICAL TRADEMARK:

The Industry standard for filming is 24 frames per second. Peter Jackson’s HOBBIT trilogy experimented with filming in 48 frames per second. Ang Lee undertakes an adventurous task of filming with 60 and up to 120 frames per second in GEMINI MAN. The outcome is a visceral and immersive cinematic experience.

For some, the frame rate will certainly take a while to adjust to as it does feel a bit distracting early on. It best can be described as watching a film in 8K quality with a Virtual Reality headset on. There are a few moments where the CGI involving the digitally created Will Smith (Junior) falter; noticeably towards the last five minutes where he is seen in broad daylight. It looks like Mr Lee ran out of budget there. The director even admitted that it costs more to create a digital human than to hire Smith himself. However, besides these cagey few moments, Lee’s technical achievement in GEMINI MAN must be applauded.

The action in GEMINI MAN is superb.

Ang Lee utilises an abundance of long full takes and tracking shots that showcase the exceptional stunt-work and special effects in GEMINI MAN. For all its action glory, there are moments in GEMINI MAN that require a suspension of disbelief. Such moments include characters walking away with a few cuts when bones should be shattered. Another includes two of our lead characters being mowed down by a minigun and escaping without a single scratch. Either someone from above was on their side, or the script granted our leads with force field powers. Let’s go with the latter, shall we? Watching the film in 3D+ didn’t enhance the experience and is not worth paying the extra couple of bucks. Still, the direction of the action remains the bedrock of Ang Lee’s GEMINI MAN. The sound design is pulsating, and there are generally some thrilling moments.

Gemini Man Benedict Wong and Mary Elizabeth Winstead image
Benedict Wong and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

STRAIGHT FORWARD AND PREDICTABLE:

Although GEMINI man can take pride in its technical achievements, the story is bog-standard. Once the inevitable twist comes into fruition, the conclusion becomes inherently predictable. The stereotypical veteran warrior being betrayed by his country due to corrupt corporate individuals has been drained to the core within film. ANGEL HAS FALLEN, SHOOTER, THE FUGITIVE, THE BOURNE FILMS; the list can go on. GEMINI MAN can now join the list as well. Further, GEMINI MAN struggles at grappling the continuity. Our lead characters bounce from country to country. Their wounds seem to heal within hours and have no impact on their abilities whatsoever.

Junior (Smith’s Clone) tracks our leads from location to location, and although it is explained how he tracks them, there is no explanation as to how he is transported across countries so rapidly. Junior conveniently pops up as per his cue from the script. GEMINI MAN’s third act was lacking any killer punch or twist to knock it out of the realm of predictability. The resolution felt rushed, with many critical questions resolved off-screen with a single throwaway line. There is little learned about the GEMINI program and its capabilities.

Gemini Man Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Will Smith image
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Will Smith

IN CONCLUSION:

Ang Lee’s GEMINI MAN is a bold technical achievement that may usher a new style of filmmaking. Along with an excellent performance by two Will Smith’s, the immersive cinematic experience in GEMINI MAN can be attributed to the film’s fantastic direction of action and cinematography. However, GEMINI MAN faults in its satisfactory approach to storytelling and development of supporting characters. Ang Lee’s technical spectacle teases a finale of larger-scale proportions that unfortunately ends with a bit of a whimper. Still, there is much enjoyment to be had, and audiences should appreciate Lee’s daring approach to filmmaking.

YOUR CRITIC:

Elie Elkorr is a proud film critic and writer for Salty Popcorn. He is a movie fanatic and also runs his own Twitter page for movie reviews and news @TweetEReviews1. He likes calling out movies when they provide social commentary rather than focusing on actual story and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. His views are his own. He is also a Law and Film student on the side and is the heir to being Black Widow’s Boyfriend. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.