What’s better than a Will Smith action movie? Gemini Man, an Ang Lee action movie wants you to say “TWO WILL SMITHS,” and that would probably be a good guess. Gemini Man ticks a lot of boxes: It’s a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced sci-fi action movie with great stars, cutting edge technology, an accomplished and successful director, a touch of 1990’s nostalgia, and yes – Will Smith in dual roles.
Gemini Man sees Will Smith as a government assassin, finishing his last job and getting ready to retire, when all hell breaks loose and he becomes the target of a different, younger assassin – who is revealed to look just like him, 30 years younger.
This younger version of Will Smith that’s about the age he was in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air might make you nostalgic for the 1990s, but the film’s plot, narrative devices, and comic relief also could’ve been plucked from Con Air or Armageddon.
The younger, computer-generated Will Smith in Gemini Man looks a little odd: Not badly executed or a technological failure, but sitting firmly in the uncanny valley between what a younger version of 51-year-old Will Smith might have looked like, and what we definitely know he looked like, due to Fresh Prince footage and press photos. And I think the film’s overall nostalgia is the same: Gemini Man desperately wants to feel like a fun action movie where you don’t have to worry about politics, realism, or logic – but instead of a trip down memory lane, it feels like an actual 1990s sci-fi action screenplay that was produced twenty years too late.
On the other hand, the film’s cutting-edge motion capture performances and person-fighting-himself sequences are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Ang Lee takes great delight in staging fistfights that clearly show both characters’ faces, despite such shots being impossible to film without twin actors. And I really think the HFR (high frame rate) 3D projection helps blur the lines between actual photography and computer-generated character.
The action is executed well, but won’t blow your mind. And the plot is thoroughly predictable and bland, though still enjoyable if you’re willing to play along. Gemini Man had the potential of being something special, but even the best performances and computer-generated Fresh Prince can’t outweigh a tired narrative and turns we’ve seen before a bunch of times.
Gemini Man is directed by Ang Lee, and stars Will Smith, Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong. It’s in local cinemas from 11 October 2019.