Paul Farren takes aim at Gemini Man.

Will Smith takes on Will Smith in Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, from a script that has been bouncing around in development hell since 1997.  Smith plays Brogan, a well-meaning, conscience-addled hit man, who has been knocking off people in the name of freedom for many years and has a total of seventy-two hits under his belt.

Now on the cusp of retiring and just finishing off number seventy two, he finds his life in danger and the possibility that some of those hits may not have been what they were supposed to be. Most notably his final one, who turns out to be a molecular biologist rather than the evil terrorist he was supposed to be. 

Soon he is on the run with a junior spy and an old friend who fills in comedy relief and international pilot/chauffeur duties. Bottom line, he is being stalked by a younger, stronger clone version of himself at the behest of a subversive, rabid defender of liberty, played by Clive Owens. Owens has not only approved the existence of this clone, it calls him daddy. Then it gets sillier. This is not the first time Lee has delved into the world of high-end blockbuster, he had his way with the Hulk many years ago; that particular film still causes a schism for me when I wonder if it’s good bad or bad good. 

What fascinates here is how appalling the script is. It is filled with plot holes and fuzzy logic a three-year-old would get angry about. The globe-hopping has no other particular point to it other than to find nice locations to put behind the set pieces. A bit like the location jumping one sees in Tekken or Mortal Kombat. If it were a Jackie Chan comedy you might forgive it but other than Benedict Wong’s attempts at humour this maintains a serious tone bordering on the portentous.  

Ang Lee’s ardour for the high frame rate 3D presentation has not gone away despite the failure of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Gemini Man was shot at 120 frames per second for high definition 3D screenings. I can’t say too much about that, as the screening I witnessed came with some technical glitches – not the fault of the format.  Elsewhere the film is filled with a highly mixed bag of VFX , Will junior being the obvious source. This effect works best at night or low-light moments, but uncanny valley syndrome is never too far away. One particular scene in daylight with the two Wills is a classic demonstration of the syndrome.

All of these foibles would be a lot easier to forgive if they weren’t trying to hold together a dated, hackneyed script whose sell by date is long past.

Paul Farren



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