Image: Will Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Gemini Man © Photograph by Ben Rothstein. Property of Paramount Pictures [Source: IMDB]
A movie that has been seemingly in development hell since the 1980s. With leads ranging from Harrison Ford to Tom Cruise and Dwayne Johnson. Finally settles on Will Smith as an expert hitman, now on the run from his own government and a suspiciously familiar faced hitman.
Director: Ang Lee. Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong [12A]
For a film that has been sat in development for such a long time and with all that time available to really refine it into something truly showstopping. To be left with what you see is flat and disappointing.
The concept itself is straight from the 1980s and is just serious enough to make its way to the screen without being laughably silly in 2019. But the problems really lie in the unbridled potential in the script, so much to explore and lots of interesting and fun ways to show off the capabilities of today’s technology. Whether its entirely digitally recreating Grand Moff Tarkin or the T-100, this takes the cake when it comes to digital technology recreating an actor. But then it continues to lick at the plate resulting in just an uncomfortable atmosphere.
For two-thirds of the film, young Will Smith is remarkable, coming across like the Will Smith we all know and remember and seeming entirely present as much as regular Will Smith is. But it’s in the final act for who knows why – the CGI slips on a banana peel the size of a car. Looking completely and utterly out of place is so ugly to look at the 90s video game quality that it distracts you entirely from what is happening on screen. Not that the final act does much to garner attention, in its cookie-cutter approach to dealing with the action plotline with its glaring and eye-rolling mystery reveal and hooks for a sequel – just make the whole thing laughable and for lack of a better word, corny.
That’s not to say Gemini Man doesn’t earn some merit. Smith does turn in a decent performance as regular Will Smith but as his younger self, he just doesn’t quite sell it past the CGI. Being so remarkably famous and known, he still has the problem of being Will Smith no matter his role or character, failing to really ever merge into a story world and identity. He does hold his own in the action sequences, however, which are shot with precision and feel well choreographed to sell the premise of the story and the intensity felt by both characters. Some of the supporting cast do surprising well to help make the world and story feel real, Clive Owen is a nice addition bringing a touch too much of Bond Villian attitude.
But sadly, for the most part, Ang Lee’s determined pursuit of style over substance, pushing technological advances rather than the characters and stories of his films. Leaves them lacking and wanting more, Gemini Man had lots of room for discussion or interesting character development but Lee is more concerned with making Will Smith looking like he did when he was the Fresh Prince.