Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gemini Man

Not finding any living actors worthy enough to share the silver screen with, Will Smith faces off against himself in Gemini Man. The action film with sci-fi underpinnings cast Smith as retiring government assassin Henry Brogan who is targeted by his own government (for mostly unintelligible reasons only important to draw him into the larger story). The man leading the hunt for Brogan is the assassin's former boss Clay Verris (Clive Owen), now the head of a multi-national private security force with an oh-so-cute name chosen to reinforce the movie's ridiculous plot. And with a name like Clay Verris is it any wonder he turned into a villain?

Gemini Man has all the ammunition in needs for a ridiculous, over-the-top action flick. Instead director Ang Lee and his cast take the entire series of events (Verris cloning Brogan and raising him as his son, who he then sends out to kill his genetic donor) seriously. While Brogan notices the odd similarities between himself and his clone, it takes the younger version (who gets quite a few up close moments with his target) far longer to suspect there is more going on than just another target to eliminate.

Not at all necessary to the plot, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is cast as an agent who goes on the run with Brogan because, well, I guess she didn't really have anything better to do. Don't get me wrong, Winstead is fine here, as are a number of other actors filling various unnecessary roles as the plot really boils down to Brogan, the clone, and Verris. The plot is mostly window dressing to showcasing real Will Smith fighting younger CGI-generated Will Smith in a variety of locales. Some of the actions sequences work fairly well, although the one staged in the catacombs (once again) strains credibility as the quick action blurs in spots framed in limited light, and the final battle at GEMINI (yes, that's what the company is called) is an anticlimactic mess.

I didn't see the film in 3-D, which is apparently one of its larger selling points. What I can say is that, in two dimensions, two Will Smiths is at least one too many for this film. The CGI of of the younger Brogan works fine at times, when the camera is framed directly on him. However, there were several scenes where the effects looked awkwardly rushed presenting a character who only sort of resembles the character from the shots immediately before and after it. At best, Gemini Man is ill-conceived (which would explain why it took two decades for the project to get made). At worst... imagine if John Woo had tried to make Face/Off a serious drama.

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