Rating2.5 / 5
Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen
10 October 2019
Will Smith looks like he’s facing off against a version of himself straight out of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air…
In Ang Lee’s newest film Gemini Man, Henry Brogan (Will Smith) has just retired from a long and distinguished career as an elite assassin. Retirement doesn’t last long for Henry though, as he quickly finds himself the target of a new operative (also Will Smith) who can predict his every move and precisely match his skill set as he is a younger version of himself.
The pressure to keep the tech ball rolling has become an emerging trend among A-list directors who have made revolutionary films. The Wachowskis gifted us with The Matrix, but their attempts to one-up that high sci-fi have resulted in colourful puke like Speed Racer and Jupiter Ascending. James Cameron showed us the power of liquid CGI in Terminator 2 and basically sold an extra dimension to the world with the 3D advancements in Avatar. Now he has spent more than a decade conjuring up new tech to sell Avatar 2, 3 and 4 – sequels exactly zero people asked for.
Then there’s Ang Lee, the man who turned the “unfilmable” novel Life of Pi into one of the most visually astounding and emotionally absorbing movies of the last decade, just by shooting a kid in a water tank in front of a blue screen. Following that triumph, he’s taken a questionable route by focusing his energy on the extremely polarising HFR (high frame-rate) 3D gimmick.
Given the criticisms levelled against its use in selling Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and in Lee’s last film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, it’s bizarre that he’s chosen to push it again, especially for something as astoundingly unremarkable as Gemini Man.
At 60 frames per second, HFR 3D does keep the image crisp and clear even when things are moving at a breakneck speed, but it also makes things look like they’re moving much faster than they should be. It’s particularly off-putting in Gemini Man during the dramatic and dialogue-driven scenes, which come across as jarring, completely unnatural and having an almost hallucinatory effect. Combined with 3D, it’s headache-inducing more than anything.
Despite this valiant attempt, it’s nowhere near enough to distract from the fact that this is an exceptionally mediocre film. Its ideas about cloning, super-soldiers and themes of identity have all been done to death and it doesn’t feel relevant in 2019.
Considering that most moviegoers will end up seeing this in its standard 24fps 2D format, you have to wonder why Ang Lee is wasting his tremendous talents on something so naff. It’s hard to recommend Gemini Man as anything more than a dumb action flick to zone out to while hungover – unless you happen to be a huge fan of Will Smith. If only the focus was more on the strengths of current tech, and not experimenting with nonsense.
Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures