Movie Review: Gemini Man



You might’ve noticed earlier this year that actor Keanu Reeves was at the peak of his career voicing Canadian action toy Duke Kaboom in “Toy Story 4,”  reprising the action role that ignited his career in “John Wick:3-Parabellum,” and cameoed in Netflix’s “Always Be My Maybe.” Not to mention, announcing the third installment in the “Bill and Ted” franchise. Some called it then the “Keanussance”; but it is now that we are in the midst of Will Smith’s.

After the cultural phenomenon sparked by Disney’s live-action “Aladdin,” along with the beginning of his YouTube channel, and the highly anticipated releases of Fox/Disney’s “Spies in Disguise” and 2020’s “Bad Boys for Life,” the era of Will Smith continues as he returns to the big screen in “Gemini Man,” a film about an elite assassin, Henry Brogan, who is on the brink of retirement and is faced with a final challenge as a mysterious operative team uses a younger clone of the protagonist to kill his older self.

This film, as did “Aladdin,” is a reminder of how talented of an actor Will Smith is. His ability to swiftly carry an entire film on his shoulders while also presenting elaborate and beautiful action sequences is truly what makes him one of today’s greatest Hollywood actors. The only leading force, besides a few standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong, in this entire film are Smith and the VFX team.

“Gemini Man” is truly an action packed drama/thriller which opens another frontier to those in the filmmaking industry.

The use of computer generated-imagery, CGI, in the field today is highly used to enhance the visuals on screen and to create an immersive experience for movie goers. This year alone we have been witnesses to hyper realistic animals in “The Lion King,” giant Kaiju monster battles in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” a robotic dystopian future from the James Cameron produced, “Alita: Battle Angel,” and now we can add “Gemini Man” to the list as it adds another level of amazement with a fully rendered CGI human: a younger version Will Smith.

The praise given to James Cameron’s 2012, “Avatar” for the use of CGI skyrocketed the film to become one of the highest grossing films of all time. Although the cinematic achievement in this film doesn’t seem to earn that exact praise, possibly due to its proximity to the release of “Joker” and lack of ad campaigning, the film respectively deserves some credit for reinventing the use of technology for future films.

Throughout the film there was not a doubt in my mind that the young Henry Brogan was not a clone of the main protagonist. Every wrinkle, every pore, every strand of hair and every facial expression was almost identical to that of 25-year-old Will Smith. It was remarkable, that was until the third act.

Outside of Smith and the VFX team, however, director Ang Lee doesn’t have much to offer.

Overall, it serves as a B level movie; the dialogue and acting of secondary characters hinders what could have been a cinematic triumph for Lee and the studio.

Lee’s decision making on screen was phenomenal, as seen in his Oscar-winning,“Life of Pi.” His ability to subtly make small scenic settings feel gigantic was quite mesmerizing; another touch in this film that helped me realize it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. Besides that, Lee’s presence in the film doesn’t quite shine through as it does in his other films. It falls short in the screenplay and in the acting performances of some very underwritten secondary characters.

And to give credit where credit is due, Lee’s particularity with the 60-frame per second film rate benefited the movie tremendously and begged the question: what other stories can use this fast paced style of filmmaking? Video games movies? Superheroes movies? Martial Arts movies? Truthfully, it made the audience more engaged, giving that edge of the seat momentum one deserves from an action film of this caliber.

Originally written in 1997, the film feels very much like an early 90’s Will Smith action movie, from the dialogue to the overall unfinished character story arcs that match the time period. The final iteration of the screenplay, written by David Benioff and Andrew Niccol in company with others, is cringeworthy. The delivery of the dialogue throughout the film is as if the actors are reading off a teleprompter, much like an SNL skit, for the first time.

Aside from the VFX and high frame rate, the overall film feels like a Netflix movie rather than a theatrically released film.

And at the end of the day, what more can you ask for from an action film about clones?





Director- Ang Lee


Cast- Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, Linda Emond

Sebastian Guzman