By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Though it has taken a long journey to get here, Gemini Man, for better or worse is now in theaters. On the plus side, the film features an inventive science fiction premise, but on the negative end, also features a somewhat predictable plot. In addition director Ang Lee has chosen a particular style of filming his movie which is not quite ready for mass consumption. That said, this movie does have its entertaining moments, but is hindered by trite writing and a poorly conceived production.
Will Smith stars as Henry Brogan, a fifty one -year old government assassin on the verge of retirement. Regarded as the best hired government killer, Brogan has decided to get out while on top. This retirement seems easy initially. That is, until it is revealed by a former colleague that his last job had questionable motives. Once word gets out that Brogan smells something rotten. His former agency decides to eliminate him before he causes them further trouble. Clay Varris (Clive Owen), head of a top-secret black ops unit codenamed “Gemini,” ambitiously agrees to handle the situation. After Brogan escapes his first wave of attackers, a “new” highly skilled warrior with uncannily familiar skills offers him the challenge of a lifetime.
Written by David Benioff, Billy Ray, Darren Lemke, and directed by Ang Lee, Gemini Man is a visually ambitious movie that falls victim to its ambitions. If the movie had a stronger script, I would have put up with the director’s visual mistakes considering that the movie had a more firm foundation. Though the movie handles its themes well, these themes are applied to a mostly transparent plot that offers few surprises. On the positive end, Lee and his crew have realized and directed a couple of stunning action sequences which are absolutely breathtaking. I was absolutely captivated by these moments, but was ultimately disappointed with the product as a whole.
Also in its favor is the fact that most of the cast members deliver great performances. Will Smith performs superbly as both Henry Brogan and his younger Gemini clone Junior. Mary Elizabeth Winstead also gives a solid turn as Danny Zakarweski, an agent who become Henry Brogan’s chief ally. Clive Owen also performs well as the film’s villain Clay Varris, a man blinded by greed and ambition that he truly lacks a moral compass. Best known for the Marvel movies, Benedict Wong offers some highly enjoyable comic relief as Henry’s friend Baron.
So despite the great performances by the cast and the bold ambitions of filmmakers Gemini Man just doesn’t quite succeed as a whole. Before I conclude I must also address the poor use of de-aging/motion capture for the Junior character. In the dark scenes, the character looks somewhat impressive, but in the brighter moments or daylight scenes, the character looks horrendous. I know Ang Lee likes to play with modern technology, but considering this movie and his take on the Hulk, perhaps he should just stick to no-frills filmmaking with naturally filmed people. He seems to be a victim of his own ambitions much like the villain of his latest movie.