This action idea was birthed back in 1997 and now over twenty years on it’s evident why it took so long to get made and you’ll wonder why it ever did, because even with Ang Lee directing, this is something that doesn’t reach the heights of a premise which isn’t even that unique.
Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a for-hire assassin who wishes to retire but when he receives intel that a recent kill has more secrets than expected, he has to flee his home and with the aide of agent Dani (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), they hope to find out the truth. Unluckily for Brogan, a Gemini project has sent a highly skilled killer (also Smith) after them.
Obviously when conceived back in the late 90’s, this story would have been ripe for the times and something interestingly different but now it hasn’t even got that going for it. The only reason for its existence is because the technology is available to de-age a star and have them play in the film twice. This uncanny valley thing is a model becoming more frequent within movies as utilised nicely in ‘Captain Marvel’, but when in close-up the CGI rendering of young Will Smith is smoothed to gross levels. There’s something in the way his mouth moves that looks like a 2010 video game cut-scene and is extremely off-putting.
In terms of the action itself, then you’re in for a bad trip to the cinema because there aren’t any set pieces which stand up to the test of memory. There’s a motorbike chase but Tom Cruise has zero to worry about because everything is frenetic and when Smith doesn’t die after taking an accelerated tyre to the face you know how much suspension of disbelief to contain. Later on, in the catacombs of Budapest everything becomes a scrambling mess as the two Wills tussle into skulls. All you can do is squint as Winstead is left as a light source on a choppily edited fight where you cannot make heads or tails who’s beating up who.
The movie only looks nicely framed in places because of them jetting to Budapest. It’s clearly an excuse to muster production in a stunning albeit cheap city but all the characters do there is talk. If I didn’t love the Hungarian capital so much, I’d give this film an even lower rating. There really is not anything about the story that stands out, everything is predictable and with one of the ‘Game of Thrones’ writers behind this screenplay you can understand the absence of sense or strength behind this film.
Backgrounds and foregrounds look oddly shoddy with this film, Ang Lee’s desire for the High Frame Rate makes the standard showing of the movie a glaringly distracting one. It’s as if nothing sits quite right within the world of the movie and not even some good tension in the opening of the movie or Smith’s dual performance can save the film from being a marketing tactic coasting on the fact that it has a Smith dual performance.
‘Gemini Man’ is a two-handed disappointment of being disappointing and underwhelming. There’s a general air of average quality surrounding the entire idea.