By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Ang Lee’s Gemini Man spends too much time attempting to strike a note with sentimental family relationships rather than giving us a laugh or two. It’s a muddled attempt at a dated action movie that tries to be self-aware but never quite gets there.
Gemini Man sees tired hitman Henry Brogan (Will Smith) team up with DIA officer Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to fight a dangerous clone (also Will Smith) at the centre of a sinister US military experiment, which ends up being a younger version of himself.
The film starts off interesting enough and feels like a generic albeit comfort-food spy movie with a touch of CGI greatness, but soon spirals into identity crisis as Brogan teams up with Danny, who is a some kind of government agent or officer – it’s never really made clear. Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) is criminally wasted here and has a banal look in her eye that screams ‘think of the paycheck’. Rather than showcasing just how bad-ass this actress can be, Lee instead uses her as an emotional leaning post for Brogan.
And the mood doesn’t stop there, after a fancy motorcycle chase around Cartagena, Colombia, Brogan comes face to face with his younger clone who is at the heart of a cliche ‘super soldier’ experiment under the jurisdiction of bad guy (and surrogate father to clones everywhere) Clay Verris, played by Clive Owen who is also wasted here as he portrays yet another forgettable villain similar to that in Luc Besson’s Valerian.
Shortly after they meet, Gemini Man turns into… well, a Gemini man – spontaneous, moody and overly sensitive. It’s hard to believe that director Ang Lee, capable of emotional Oscar-worthy epics like Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain, and cutting edge fight choreography in the wonderful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, could bring so little to this. The film feels much like a bad ‘teen’ action movie, similar to 2016’s Suicide Squad… which also starred Will Smith. The guy clearly isn’t in a good place right now career wise.
There is one thing Ang Lee brought to the table here though, and that’s his remarkable work with CGI which he seemed to have mastered while making Pi. The younger version of Smith, referred to only as ‘Junior’, looks like the real deal 90% of the time. And in the few fight scenes the two actually have, I found myself wondering how on earth they did it. Something tells me the making of Gemini Man will end up being much more interesting than the film itself.
I have no idea what to think of this film. It takes itself way too seriously and suffers from a complete lack of self-awareness. There are some nice shots of Budapest though?