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Gemini Man (2019) - Movie Review

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Gemini Man

Rarely does conventional wisdom hold in Hollywood. Particularly with regards to the notion that less is more and that simplicity is superior to elaborate embellishment. Take, for instance Jerry Bruckheimer, the titan of TNT, who subscribes to the theory that if a candle is needed for a shot, then a stick of dynamite will be even better.

"a well-acted, poorly written action movie that never takes its unique premise anywhere interesting"


Well, he’s a producer on the new film, Gemini Man, which stars Will Smith. And in true Bruckheimer fashion, one Will Smith wasn’t enough. So the film stars two of them. One, the real deal. The other, a digitally de-aged facsimile of the 51-year-old actor. But as might be expected, two Will Smiths aren’t any better than one.

The story is about an aging assassin who comes under pursuit by a younger, even more lethal antogonist who seems to know his every move before he makes it. That’s because his enemy turns out to be … himself. But at only half his current age.

The younger, fitter Will Smith was done via a combination of motion capture and some other difficult to understand visual effects techniques that weren’t available to filmmakers until recently. Actors had to film their parts multiple times with stand-ins, by themselves, and on green screen. The pieces were then digitally re-assembled to have Smith face off and appear alongside his younger self.

The result is, indeed, a slick-looking technical marvel. However, it isn’t perfect. Especially in some more well lit scenes where Junior looks and moves more like a video game imitation and where actors struggle to match sightlines. And just wait until you see the giant fake tears rolling down Junior’s cheeks. The drama. It is good enough, but there are many more reasons why this whole thing doesn’t work.

Smith is Henry Brogan a veteran ex-Special Forces sniper turned assassin for a clandestine government organization on the verge of retirement from the Defense Intelligence Agency. With his suspicions confirmed that something wasn’t quite right about his latest hit, Brogan and cohort Danny Zakarweski (a quite good Mary Elizbaeth Winstead) find themselves in the crosshairs of their superiors as well as with a nefarious military contractor named Clay Verris (Clive Owen) who sics Junior (computer version of Will Smith) on them. We soon learn that Junior was created from the Assassin’s own DNA many years ago, and programmed to be some sort of super soldier.

The idea behind the story is ripe for some interesting and complex themes such as nature vs. nurture, and the universal questions surrounding morality. Screenwriters David Benioff and Billy Ray touch on some of those, and even get into some of the more meaty questions of what a man might tell a younger version of himself. But they stay mostly on the surface and never go quite deep enough. After all, we have to get to the next action piece, right?Gemini Man

The film is directed by Ang Lee, who is certainly no stranger to heavy effects-laden films, having won multiple Oscars for 2012’s Life of Pi. So he should know and understand that story is king and that a great tale should never play second fiddle to whiz-bang visual effects. But sadly, in Gemini Man, it does. Full of thin characters, an even thinner plot, and an endless string of over-the-top action pieces, Gemini Man feels as if it was written around a new type of technology. And in a way, it was. For an idea that had been kicked around since the ‘90s as it waited for technology to catch up, it sure feels rushed.

Ang shot the film at 120 frames per second as opposed to the usual 24, as well as in 4K and in 3D. It must be noted that I watched the standard version, so I suppose there’s a chance the digital Junior might appear more convincing at the higher frame rate. But as it is, Gemini Man is a well-acted, poorly written action movie that never takes its unique premise anywhere interesting.

2/5 beers

Gemini Man

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

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Gemini Man

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language.
Runtime:
117 mins
Director
: Ang Lee
Writer:
David Benioff, Billy Ray
Cast:
Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
Who will save you from yourself.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You made a person out of another person, then you sent me to kill him. You made a choice to do this to me."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://skydance.com/film/gemini-man/
Release Date:
October 11, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.

Gemini Man

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