Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a government assassin who wants to retire. However, when a black ops squad sent out to kill him, he knows there’s more coming. Fleeing with his monitor, Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), they try to run but a new threat is tracking them and this one will be hard to shake…
… a thriller about genetic engineering which scrubs out any ‘surprise’ from its DNA.
In ‘Gemini Man’, Director Ang Lee and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer want to break new ground. However, in delivering a 3D IMAX film shot at 120 frames per second, their latest movie quickly becomes a cracked mirror of its own intentions.
The reason for is that a sharper image is not always better. Shot at a high frame rate similar to Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit‘, ‘Gemini Man’ quickly becomes a stilted viewing experience. Falling somewhere in between computer game graphics and high definition TV, every frame lacks depth. So, despite the best intentions of Will Smith and his cast, everything looks like it’s been projected onto a separate pane of glass. Add to this a plot that is predictable to the point of being pointless and you have a thriller about genetic engineering which scrubs out any ‘surprise’ from its DNA. Feeling like a clone of every other action movie you’ve ever seen, ‘Gemini Man’ routinely ticks off its shopping list of references (‘The Bourne Identity‘, ‘The American‘, etc.). However, these inspirations later become noisy ghosts in the machine. For a story where gravity is defied and motorcycles are tossed around like grenades, the tale of a hitman who quits because he succeeds rather than fails, tugs hard at a thread dying to be pulled.
Alas though, this is a story about kinetics, not empathy.
With his puppeteer’s pixels still plainly visible, Will Smith’s dual performance struggles for breath. Fortunately breaking up all of his causes and effects, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are on hand. Where Winstead brings a semblance of believability, Wong thankfully brings humour – and this is a big deal – and the reason for this, lies in the past.
In 1997 John Woo’s ‘Face/Off‘s fun banter developed character whereas ‘Gemini Man’s’ dialogue feels like lines of code. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arrival of Clive Owen. A long way divorced from his stand-out performances in ‘Children of Men‘ and ‘The International‘, he unwisely side-parts from his past billings. Brushed over for Bond and fed instructions that would shame a child’s modelling kit, he genuinely needs to find something better or risk becoming another baddie-in-waiting.
By the time ‘Gemini Man’ finishes, it sadly offers nothing new by the way of character development and consequently causes Ang Lee’s latest ‘wedding to CGI’ to quickly date on debut. Falling down in the very areas where Jon Favreau’s ‘Lion King‘ roars, ‘Gemini Man’ becomes a thriller which drowns in its own ‘cut-and-paste’ aspirations whilst unintentionally auguring in a new yawn.