Written by Darren Lemke, Billy Ray, and David Benioff, and directed by Ang Lee, “Gemini Man” is an Action oriented thriller with a dose of Science-Fiction thrown in for good measure. So, this one is a mixed bag. More so than any other movie this year, for me anyways. Will Smith has had a good year with the “Aladdin” remake and next year’s new installment of “Bad Boys” looks like a long awaited return to a ridiculous set of films that should be, if nothing else, a good time at the movie theater. That’s the mindset I was in after walking out of “Gemini Man”, having had a legitimately good time at the movies- even though there were some jarring aspects to the experience. Low expectations are to be sought out friends and fellow movie-goers, they will do more for you than any hype or word-of-mouth. Having heard that this one was a bit of a stinker at the box-office I went in seeing if this one would fall into the category of “So bad it’s good” movies. Not so, the film was well directed and the performances were competent enough for the story that this film was trying to tell. The writing however, was bad. That’s actually the worst part of the film, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Will Smith’s Henry is an aging assassin, and as the opening scene dictates, he’s still the best as what he does- even though he himself spots his skill slipping. After getting too close to a civilian death for comfort, Henry decides that it’s time to retire his trigger finger. As with all movie assassins that decide to hang it up for good- Henry’s pulled back into the action before too long. After getting a hint of some shady business surrounding his last target from a fellow former brother-in-arms, Henry’s off on the scent of conspiracy. From there Henry is pursued by his own agency for “knowing too much” and gets another old friend (Benedict Wong) roped into the search for answers when he quickly spots an agent (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) surveilling him nearby. Once they all agree to find out why their own agency is chasing them down with deadly intent, the three agents find themselves being pursued by a familiar face.
Which is where the action kicks up a considerable degree. The motorcycle chase scene in Colombia between Will Smith and his Fresh Prince-era clone is one of the most exciting sequences of the whole movie, it’s well directed and feels frantic and chaotic. This exemplifies the best asset of the film (aside from two Will Smith performances), constant pursuit with increasingly brutal tactics from the “Bad Guys” of the movie. The film wisely keeps the pace and speed of the film high, which is good because otherwise the writing would have stood out more than it already did. Which leads me to my biggest complaint about this film: it’s way too predictable. From the first moment you see Clive Owen’s Clay Verris in an office barking orders and threats, you know almost everything you need to know about him, he’s a brutal and efficient Villain- with a capital V. Everything about the “old man fights his past self and conflicts with him ideologically” theme of the film is surface level psychology and just a fun excuse to experiment with that shiny new de-aging technology. Which, by the way, was somewhat impressive in execution. I’m not quite sure how they filmed Will Smith grappling with himself on the ground- but some curiosity behind the filmmaking process won’t balance out your film when a more thoughtful script may have been a better solution.
“Gemini Man” doesn’t use all of it’s actors as well as it could have, and its definitely an easy one to plot out if you’ve seen enough movies, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time with it. The plot and hook of the film may not be the most innovative or as memorable as they’d like it to be, but there’s some good fun to be had with this one as long as you’re okay with turning your brain off for a bit. Thankfully, the film puts all of its dramatic weight on the shoulders of Will Smith’s acting abilities, but it isn’t quite enough to distract from the flaws in the storytelling. However, if you’re just looking for some good escapist fun at the movie theater, you could do far worse than this one.
Final Score: 1 Person, made from another… person