“Gemini Man” is Ang Lee’s return to the action genre after 16 years. He first revolutionized the genre with 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar.
The film follows Henry Brogan, a retired assassin who finds that his government has sent a younger clone of himself after his older self.
I walked into this film with minimal expectations, as I have not been as much of a fan of Lee’s more recent work, such as “Life of Pi”. The little expectations I had were met averagely well. This is not a movie I could see sweeping the Oscars (maybe for visual effects), however, I believe that, to an extent, this movie knows it isn’t Oscar-worthy. It doesn’t really try to be anything that it’s not. It was just pretty good.
In terms of the script, there were a few moments that felt super awkward. A lot of the dialogue, especially in the first half of the movie, just felt kind of unnatural, although nothing too jarring. Also, many times throughout the movie’s very twisty story, a weird thing will happen, where a twist will be shown and then be revealed a few scenes later. I don’t understand why they did this. It just kind of threw me off at some points. For instance, there was a set-piece that revolved around a twist in the film, and then 20 minutes later the same twist was revealed.
However, the script as a whole is not too bad. It provides an interesting concept with a somewhat interesting, albeit surface-level cast of characters.
The acting also felt just a little off at some points. Will Smith, for some reason, lost his classic Will Smith charm for this movie. If I had to guess, it was the director’s choice to make him the generic stoic-action-hero type, which is understandable. I, and surely many other people could not imagine a hardened assassin laughing, cracking jokes, or rapping as he is being hunted by a younger clone of himself sent by the government.
However, along with its script, Will Smith’s character starts to feel more natural and fleshed out in the second half. The younger self, simply named “Junior” in the movie, is played well by Smith. He manages to bring the complexity of his entire existence down-to-earth. Being a 51 year old playing his 23-year-old self playing another character could actually be quite a challenge. However, Will Smith is able to pull it off with ease. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, and Clive Owen are also in the movie. They played well within the depths of their characters, which wasn’t all too deep.
Back on the topic of “Junior,” the visual effects are absolutely outstanding. There were many points in the movie where I simply forgot that 51-year-old Will Smith wasn’t actually in the scene with 23-year-old Will Smith. De-aging CGI at this point, isn’t a new effect, in fact, it’s first use was around a decade with 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand.” However, in “Gemini Man,” this is done to a much more convincing degree. There were maybe a few shots where it looked odd, but other than that, it was presented very well.
In all, “Gemini Man” was just an overall a fine action movie. Although the first half is slightly bogged down by some awkward writing and performances, it’s all-around a fairly good time. I wouldn’t put it down as one of my favorite movies of the year, nor as one of my least favorite. However, for what it was, which was just a fun popcorn action movie, it was fairly good.