Remember back when Will Smith was a big box office draw? Remember when Will Smith starred in a movie and it was an event? Remember when Will Smith was young? Well, Gemini Man makes it where you don’t have to remember what it was like when he was young, but you will want to because it is not nearly as good as his first hit films Bad Boys (1995), Independence Day (1996), or Men in Black (1997). Will Smith is still a charismatic, jovial, and talented actor so the thought of two Will Smith’s in the same movie could be appealing. But Gemini Man is not a great deal of two Will Smith’s for the price of one, it is two Will Smith’s that are twice as bad because the sole purpose of this movie is to show off the new de-aging special effects technology.
The opening shot is a white architecturally complex ceiling at a train station in Belgium. Gemini Man has beautiful cinematography but it is tarnished with obvious green screens. Right away the viewer sees the superficiality of the movie. Will Smith plays a gifted assassin who wants to retire but his employer (Clive Owen) will not let him, that alone is such a tired cliche. So he sends a younger version of Will Smith to go and assassinate the older version so then the younger one can do all of his bosses dirty work. Another agent played by Mary Elizabeth Winsted gets caught up in this mess and works to help Will Smith since their boss wants to kill her as well. The movie does allow the characters to trot the globe which they can because there is a convenient plot device of Will Smith’s friend who happens to be a pilot with access to private planes and has nothing to do but fly them around the world from Savannah, Georgia, to Colombia, to Hungary, and back. Despite all of the traveling I doubt the actors even left Los Angeles since the sound effects and green screen efforts spoil the realism of them actually being at any of those places. For once working on the second unit may have been more fun than hanging out with Will Smith. Ang Lee directs this mess and his track record the past few decades has been pretty inconsistent. This is one of his lesser works lacking the emotional heart of his finest films which even if they are big spectacles like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), they still contain a strong human element that adds emotion to the action. That cannot be said for Gemini Man which is only concerned with showing off its technology like a kid with a shiny new toy, and then you see all the obnoxious product placement from Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Stella Artois, Apple, and Lays which paid for it. The scene where Will Smith dons a Phillies hat was a nice nod to his hometown. It takes the viewer out of the movie but reminds us why we loved Will Smith in the first place so no complaints there.
The rest of Gemini Man is nothing more than a simple anti-cloning story with action movie cliches done better in other films featuring a lot of scenes with characters pointing guns at their enemies but inexplicably talking instead of pulling the trigger. Nothing new in that regard. Plus the final showdown is a fight that involves a “twist” that is meant to be a “surprise” that would only fool people who have literally never seen another movie.
Gemini Man is reminiscent of Rain Johnson’s vastly superior sci-fi action film Looper (2012) about a young hitman played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who time travels to kill the older version of himself played by Bruce Willis. Check out Looper this weekend instead of the tired and cliche ridden Gemini Man.
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