Gemini Man: The BRWC Review. There is a moment in Ang Lee’s Gemini Man where the two main characters, both of whom are portrayed by Will Smith, fall into a pool of water towards the end of one of their fights. The younger clone of the two, known as Junior, has just found out he was an experiment created in a lab to be a super soldier and doesn’t have it in him to keep fighting. Junior rebukes the older man, who is claiming to be genetically identical to him, he shouts at him as he floats away down an undisclosed tunnel. This is the best moment of Gemini Man; the only time the film has any heart and soul is right here in the water that merely existed in the script to stop either of the leads from dying halfway through the film.
Everything before and after this one moment is an illogical mess filled to the brim with needless characters and unnecessary cinematic experiments. The main character out of the two Will Smiths is Henry Brogan, an aging government hitman entering retirement as the demons that come with his line of work begin to haunt him. Alongside Henry is his accomplice of circumstance Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is roped into the conflict when the government believes her to be helping Henry who has become a fugitive after finding out his final hit was on someone who didn’t deserve killing. The final member of the key trio is a totally needless character called Baron (Benedict Wong) who serves only to fill in the gap of Henry’s giant list of talents; he can fly, Henry can’t. They go up against the other Will Smith character Junior in an attempt to inform him that the leader of the Gemini Project Clay Verris, who poses as a father to Junior, is manipulating him.
The film as a whole amounts to two things; talented actors with nothing to work with and a born storyteller director with no story to tell. It all comes down to David Benioff, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke’s impossibly thin script. Full of plot holes and an incredibly weak antagonist in Verris nothing here works. The strongest aspect is Junior coming to terms with what he is, it draws out some glimpses of powerful work from Smith, but it doesn’t last. Before you know it, Junior moves on from his mental turmoil and goes about his business for the final portion of the film. Henry’s side of the narrative is no better with both Danny and Baron adding nothing to the experience. They exist only to ensure the cast wasn’t made up solely of two Will Smiths and Clive Owen.
Why paramount thought this was something worth making we may never know, but the best guess is the abundance of talent that became attached to the project. Will Smith is a box office draw; he has been for the best part of two decades and continues to be. Ang Lee is a two-time Oscar winner for achievement in directing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead showed the world she was to be taken seriously in 10 Cloverfield Lane and has grown as a star ever since. And earlier this year Benedict Wong played a role in the highest-grossing film of all time. None of them produces memorable work here, and excluding Lee, it isn’t their fault.
I wish I couldn’t lay blame at the feet of the great cinematic genius of Ang Lee, but alas his recent films have been a drop in form and Gemini Man sees him sink lower. You cannot blame the lack of depth on the writers alone; some must go to the head of the project behind the camera. Lee is all too focused on seeing how well he can capture the gimmicks of the film like the higher frame rate and the, admittedly spectacular, CGI recreation of Smith. In all the slow-motion shots and over the top overstimulating action sequences, there is none of the heart that Lee’s best movies generate, worst of all, there are no characters even to care about throughout.
As I touched on, everything does look great. The special effects work on Smith as Junior is breath-taking at times and the cinematography insights more interest in the action sequences than the choreography itself inspires. Lorne Balfe’s score is also impressive if underutilised. The work in these aspects is so isolated in their success that I shudder to think what the final product would look like if they hadn’t been.
Gemini Man is no more and no less than a failed experiment. Generally, something like this would be easy to ignore, but with the sheer amount of talented people involved the project leads to one inescapable thought; this was a missed opportunity, and it should have been a whole lot better.
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