In Brief: Familiar story done in a familiar way. Not close to as interesting as the trailer’s promise.
Gemini Man passes itself off as sci-fi but it’s really just an action thriller-combination-chase movie with little bit of a twist. You’re supposed to be impressed that Will Smith plays two roles. I might have been dazzled if the performance came with a better story.
I’m not saying the movie is horrible. It’s just not the gripping science fiction tale the trailer promises.
Smith plays two characters. He’s Henry Brogan, an older version of himself. Smith is also Junior, a younger self. Both are paid assassins who — until now — are unaware of each other. The older self is the best in the world The younger self is a killer cloned from the older. The cloner — is that what you call them? — thinks the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and trains the kid to be better than the best.
He is and he isn’t.
We find that out when the younger is sent to kill the older because the older is onto the cloner’s crap. What the cloner is up to is the film’s only mystery. On second thought, that might not be totally true. Another mystery is why anyone would possibly be interested in a movie that is — itself — a clone of dozens of other, better, action-chase movies.
Do not make the mistake of thinking this is anything else. Gemini Man is a common chase movie framed in exotic locales and that comes complete with impossible, high end car and motorcycle chases, and badly edited gun fights where bullets hit everything and everyone but the main characters.
Sadly, director Ang Lee and writers David Beniof, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke miss an opportunity to do an interesting pro and con science fiction exploration of cloning and the dangers of letting the greediest among us control the science of cloning.
But that, too, has already been done in much better and more interesting movies.
Besides wasting that opportunity, Lee and the writers, who’ve done exceptional writing on projects like Game of Thrones, Captain Phillips and State of Play, also misuse the talents of Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong and Clive Owen.
Then there’s the CGI. Lee has done some of modern cinema’s most impressive movies. Two good examples come from the special effects and the powerful stories of Life of Pi and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They blew our movie minds. Here Lee and his effects staff do a laughable job of trying to make the face of 50-year old Smith look like he’s 20.
Like Captain Marvel proved with Samuel L. Jackson’s mug, the motion-capture technology designed to do this isn’t quite there yet.
But Lee tries anyway, and the result is so bad that Smith doesn’t even come close to looking like he really looked as a young man and a young actor. And that’s a young actor who used to do A-list work and — including Aladdin — hasn’t given anything close to an A-list performance a decade.
That Smith was interesting. This one isn’t. And neither is his movie.
Directors: Ang Lee
Stars: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, Clive Owen, Linda Emond, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. This movie about a clone is, itself, a clone of much better done action flicks. Give this a 2 1/2 out of 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.