On paper, an action film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Ang Lee and starring Will Smith sounds like a sure-fire hit. At least in the mid 90’s it would have been, but as the current decade ends Gemini Man already feels dated. For those that don’t know, Gemini Man has been trying to get off the ground for 20 years. Nicholas Cage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and even Sean Connery among others had been approached to star in the film. Tony Scott and Curtis Hanson had been lined up to direct, but the technology has never been ready until now.
Ang Lee once again pushes ahead and forces high frame rate (filmed in 120fps) upon the audience whether they are ready for it or not. With Gemini Man, he has created a film solely to show off his vision for the future of film and has not created a film which fulfils its promise with the cast and crew that are involved.
Before the film has even started, the movie has been stripped of all surprises thanks to the overexposed trailers and press releases which leave no incentive to watch it. All the best reveals are already out there and spread across the internet. It also appears that very few people will not able to watch the film as Ang Lee intended because there are a limited number of cinemas that can actually project in 3D IMAX at 120 frames per second. So really what’s the point of it all?
The plot is a tired old story of a retiring assassin. Henry Brogan (Smith) has to go on the run from his former employers who are trying to kill him. Hot on his heels is a mysterious killer that can predict his every move. Discovering that he is being tracked by a younger clone of himself, Henry needs to find out why he is being hunted and who really is after him.
It’s been a while since Will Smith released an absolute banger and sadly the wait continues. Gemini Man looks and feels like a film full of missed opportunities. Will Smith lacks his usual energy; Clive Owen feels miscast and Elizabeth Winstead is criminally underused. The de-ageing process isn’t always convincing. It is a huge step forward for the technology but still not 100 percent believable.
It’s ironic that a film trying to be advanced in terms of technical ability with the use of a higher frame and the de-ageing technology, in fact, feels so dated. All the components of the film simply don’t work together. The biggest drawback is the script. This film has been in and out of production for 20 years or so and you think in that time they could have put together at least a half-decent script. In its current form, the script is just plain lazy. It doesn’t matter how hard the cast try they can’t squeeze anything out of it. When an audience is laughing at all the wrong points and rolling their eyes you know that the film is struggling. It does have a couple of exciting set pieces and Benedict Wong’s supporting role does have fun but the film quickly runs out of steam and by the time the finale comes around you simply don’t care.
After a 20 year wait, Gemini Man fails to deliver. It lacks the fun and energy it is so desperately calling out for and the script is the biggest let down, everything falls flat. More style over substance. Definitely a missed opportunity for something great.
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: David Benioff, Billy Ray, Darren Lemke
Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Douglas Hodge