Review: Gemini Man (2019)

Gemini Man (2019)

Directed by: Ang Lee | 117 minutes | action, drama, thriller | Actors: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown, Linda Emond, Ilia Volok, EJ Bonilla, Victor Hugo, David Shae, Theodora Miranne, Diego Adonye, ​​Lilla Banak, Igor Szasz, Alexa György

The completion of ‘Gemini Man’ was anything but a matter of course. Back in 1997, Disney bought the rights to the story about a professional sniper being chased by a younger clone of himself. Several directors and actors were considered for the film over the years, but the project never got off the ground. Mainly for technological reasons, the script was often labeled as unfilmable. Now more than twenty years later, the film has suddenly come about – directed by Ang Lee, the Taiwanese director behind films such as ‘The Ice Storm’ (1997), ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005) and ‘Life of Pi’ ( 2012). The lead role is played by Hollywood star Will Smith.

The plot of ‘Gemini Man’ is quite simple. Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a successful sniper who is troubled by his conscience and wants to leave the industry. However, Henry is in possession of sensitive information and this ensures that his old boss Clay Verris (Clive Owen) now puts him on the kill list himself. The task is given to the only person who could pose real danger to Henry, namely his own much younger clone.

Digital rejuvenation has become very popular in Hollywood lately. The technology to give an older actor his youth back has been around for a while and has been used several times, but Ang Lee takes it one step further with ‘Gemini Man’. What makes this film different is that the older and younger versions of Wil Smith can be seen side by side, as two independent characters. The marketing of the film was completely dependent on this. After seeing ‘Gemini Man’ this is more than understandable, because the film has very little to offer after Smith’s CGi clone.

Anyone who suspects that ‘Gemini Man’ might be addressing certain existential questions about human cloning will soon be disappointed. The fact is that the film doesn’t seem to be interested in that at all. It is quite late in the film when the young clone comes on the scene and even then this aspect of the story is barely highlighted. The film would much rather jump from one continent to the next, to provide a bit of action in each exotic location. This can be somewhat forgiven if the action scenes are presentable, but this is not the case either. The action is often unbelievable. A scene where Henry is punched in the face by the rear wheel of a motorcycle is a good example of this. Where everyone else would be badly hurt, Henry doesn’t care at all. It’s downright ridiculous.

It’s hard to understand why Ang Lee made a movie like this. All the psychological and philosophical depth of many of his previous works is completely absent here. His vision is also lacking here, because ‘Gemini Man’ prefers to cling to clichés. Where many other films present their characters with some ambiguity, ‘Gemini Man’ leaves no question marks about the morality of its characters. The good guys are good at all times here and the bad guys are bad at all times. As a main character, Henry is therefore not interesting at all. With an experienced sniper as the main character, you could portray an intriguing human being, one who may be in a constant moral battle with himself and looks back on his past actions with remorse. But that’s too much to ask for a movie like this. Except for a few words about his early retirement, he is portrayed here as a meaningless good guy. It also doesn’t help that Will Smith plays his part completely on autopilot. The actor may also long for his glory days in the 90s: the time when ‘Gemini Man’ should have been released and through which he could have avoided this embarrassing double role.

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