Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge, Linda Emond, Ilia Volok and Ralph Brown
Run time: 1h 57m
Will Smith is Henry Brogan, an assassin with a very particular set of skills. After a job very nearly results in an innocent child being killed, he re-evaluates his life and decides to retire before he loses his touch. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go down too well with Henry’s bosses as he uncovers a conspiracy against him, realises he’s been betrayed and is now a target himself.
Sent to take him out is a member of the Gemini project. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the person chosen to assassinate Henry is none other than his younger double, Junior, also played by Smith. Yes, it’s a military experiment masterminded by Clay Verris (a ruthlessly on-form Owen) as he looks to start his own attack of the clones.
There are two things you need to know about Gemini Man; first, visionary director Ang Lee has decided to use an updated form of 3D that runs at an increased frame rate of 60 frames per second (regular film is shot at a rate of 24 frames a second), and is, hopefully, a more immersive experience for the viewer. Second, again taking advantage of new technology, Smith has been de-aged to make him look as young as a fresh prince.
Both initially impress, but once the novelty wears off, what follows is a rather inconsistent, messy action thriller with thin characters and an uninspired script which relies way too heavily on Smith’s natural charisma to bail it out of trouble.
Some of the action works very well and certainly places you in between the bullets in a unique way. There’s a motorbike chase through some narrow streets and a fistfight in the catacombs of a castle that make you feel as if you’re in danger of getting whacked yourself, but it’s not enough to save this from becoming another generic ‘crash, boom bang’ movie.
When it comes to youthenising (sorry) Smith, it’s quite fascinating to watch the battle of wills taking place and it’s astonishing to see boundaries being broken like this, but look a little closer and something isn’t quite right. Perhaps it’s the eyes which take on a rather artificial appearance that a computer can’t quite humanise, but whatever it is it’s particularly apparent towards the end of the film where Junior simply looks odd.
The actors surrounding Smith do what they can with the little they’re given, particularly Winstead as a Government agent who starts off impressively showcasing her action credentials, but spends the rest of the film very much in the background whilst Benedict Wong tries to be funny with unfunny dialogue.
Worth watching to see what the visual fuss is all about and Smith’s still as reliable as ever, but no matter how impressive the aesthetics, you can’t digitally enhance a script.
Gemini Man launches into UK cinemas on Thursday October 10.