Will Smith Shines Twice In Director Ang Lee’s Effects-Heavy Thriller ‘Gemini Man’
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong
Seen at 60 frames per second (fps) on 3D-Plus (2K resolution), Ang Lee’s action spectacular Gemini Man roved a compulsive watch. Did you know, that in fact this story was conceived in 1997 (Tony Scott was billed to direct) and was tossed between directors and re-assigned lead actors (including Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood) until it landed with Skydance Media in 2016 and Ang Lee signed on to direct in 2017. There was probably no one better to deliver this picture as a prototype for future action film-making then Ang Lee, who has been tinkering around with projection speeds since he delivered ‘The Life Of Pi’.
Gemini Man which has hit theaters, stars Will Smith as two characters; Henry Brogan, the older, wiser former assassin who just wants to spend the rest of his days in a quiet fishing village, and Junior, the younger clone of himself who spends the movie trying to hunt him down and kill him after their assassin agency turns against him. “Gemini Man” opens with one of Henry’s recent jobs, showing through a viewfinder just how sharp of a shot he is. As soon as Henry tries to opt out of trouble, trouble comes hunting him around the corner. Henry tells people he’s been avoiding mirrors lately, so naturally, it’s in one that he sees the reflection of his hitman. The film earns its central conflict by showing the audience that Henry’s hunter looks just like him.
Junior, is a genetic clone created from Henry’s DNA 25 years ago by his shady ex-commanding officer Clay Verris (Clive Owen). Touted as a man with all of Henry’s strengths, yet none of his emotional baggage, Junior is on the clock to kill his target after he decides to retire, which leads Henry to go on the run with friends Baron (Benedict Wong) and Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
In the beginning, Gemini Man starts to take on the form of a conspiracy thriller that feels very much in the vein of the Bourne franchise. Throughout the duration though I felt the visuals and special effects became the more prominent focus of this film, and the story wasn’t as thrilling as it could have been. Lee’s passion for visual detail is impressive to the point of distraction. Once Lee establishes what he can do with the technology in “Gemini Man”, it becomes a little more difficult to refocus emotion into the story.
In the first brawl between Smith and Junior, Lee’s skill is put on full display with astonishing results. It becomes an almost immersive video game-type experience, the camera keeps motion aligned to action, rather than atmosphere, engrossing it’s viewers in full POV shots making the action sequences that more realistic.
Even with all the technology in play, Will Smith still deliver’s his character with beaming charm. Gemini Man is meant to give us a sense that Henry Brogan is the sharpest man in the room, capable to killing any man in the room the quickest with a pistol, but I did feel the sharp demeanour he displayed in films like Focus, was missing.
Gemini Man represents a film that fully displays the technical mastery of Ang Lee, something you need to see to believe. The story would have worked so much better when it started development in 1997, when espionage films like ‘The Saint’, ‘True Lies’, ‘Mission Impossible’ and other’s were all the craze. What ‘Gemini Man’ does achieve though is impressive moments of dazzling showmanship and intriguing action; but with very little message behind it.