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In Gemini Man, Henry Brogan is the ultimate warrior, widely known to be the best assassin in the business. As his veteran-like status continues, Brogan looks to the future, hoping to have a peaceful existence that puts the demons at bay. After completing a mission, Gemini (a resourceful organization) sets a plan in motion. Their leader has made a clone of Brogan, and in time, this duplicate is sent on a mission. Eventually, Brogan finds himself face to face with his clone, and from there, a battle ensues.
You can have the best filmmaker and cast in the world, but if the script is lacking, you’re in a troublesome state. Such is the case with Gemini Man, a film full of tremendous artists. Ang Lee, an acclaimed director, is behind the camera, testing the waters of technological advancement yet again. Lee, a native of Taiwan, gives us a crisp looking film complete with breadcrumbs of entertainment.
One action set piece is breathtakingly good. Lee uses patient takes and point of view shots, giving the conflict an immersive feel that puts us in the cinematic environment. Unfortunately, every other set piece pales in comparison. When combatants fight, the action is insanely fast, not allowing us to savor the conflict’s development. When shots are fired, much of the action has the stale-like essence of average shooter games, and in the end, Gemini Man fails to consistently entertain.
Many people have talked about the film’s utilization of de-aging technology. To put it simply, the younger version of Smith is brought to life through digital means. When the character is seen in broad daylight, the results are poor. The character reeks of cinematic artificiality. However, when the character is in the dark, the results are solid. At times, it’s almost as if a younger version of Smith has returned from the past.
Will Smith, a megastar of cinema, is in front of the camera, delivering solid work yet again. In Gemini Man, Smith’s flashiness is slightly minimized, and for good reason. The film paints a male portrait, consisting of pain and regret. Smith naturally steps into this role, using his larger than life presence to inject life into the character. His gravitas molds the character into a believable vessel of tragedy, balancing weariness and acceptance. And of course, Smith’s charisma is alive and well, imbuing Gemini Man with small bits of adventure.
It’s nice seeing a popcorn flick that focuses on a black man’s trials and tribulations. Here, we have a black man being threatened by a wealthy white man of stature. This concept deeply resonates with many, but sadly, the film doesn’t go any deeper in exploring this dynamic. It’s such a shame that Smith isn’t connected to a better script, consisting of character, societal and technological exploration.
The idea of cloning is used improperly in Gemini Man. Instead of intellectually utilizing the concept of cloning, the film delves into a sloppy whirlwind. The antagonist, played by Clive Owen, is barely developed, and when he is somewhat analyzed, it comes at the end of Gemini Man, when the damage is already done. In other cases, we are beaten over the head with information. Even when the facts are clear, the film goes a step further, entering the depths of hellish repetition.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a female agent. At first, her role consists of admirable morality and superior individuality. Her interpersonal charm and physical skills are clearly displayed, but as the film goes on, these aspects are heavily reduced. The end result is a female character that lacks a satisfying sense of progression.
Benedict Wong, a British actor of Chinese descent, is given a role of unimpressive proportions. He plays a character who pops up every once in a while, adding uninteresting dialogue and common skills to the proceedings. When it comes to the action scenes, he vanishes into thin air. And when it comes to emotion, Wong’s character lacks proper evolution.
Overall, I cannot recommend Gemini Man. The actors give it their all, forming chemistry that evokes the spirit of camaraderie and loyalty, but in the end, the flick falls prey to a sloppy script. I wanted to love it. But hey, that’s life. Sometimes, we enter the realm of disappointment. Here’s to next time!
Originally published by Dillon McCarty for Incluvie on October 23, 2019.
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A24 keeps producing amazing films and X belongs with all the brilliant titles under its name. And is definitely a must-watch for a film enthusiast!