Main cast: Will Smith (Henry Brogan and Jackson), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Dani Zakarweski), Clive Owen (Clayton Varris), Benedict Wong (Baron), Ralph Brown (Del Patterson), Linda Emond (Janet Lassiter), Douglas Hodge (Jack Willis), and Ilia Volok (Yuri Kovacs)
Director: Ang Lee
Much has been said about the de-aging technology that pitted Will Smith’s character in Gemini Man against a younger version of that character. Think Deadshot versus the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This movie apparently was conceived more than twenty years ago, and it is only now that the technology is available to make it happen, ooh. Then why is the end result rather underwhelming? The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which I understand is made from CGI based on Mr Smith’s motion capture, looks artificial with a touch of uncanny valley to it. Maybe they should have just made an animated movie out of the premise?
The older character played by Mr Smith is Henry Brogan, an assassin with a super covert division within the CIA, who decides to call it quits as his kill count approaches eighty. There is only so many people he cam kill before the weight of all those deaths become too much of a burden, after all. He retreats to live a quiet life on his boat. As you can guess, his past catches up with him soon enough. His friend and ex-colleague Jack Willis alerts him to the fact that Henry’s last assignment might not be what our hero thought it was – Henry might have been set up by his superiors to kill a man for reasons that are entirely different from that in the brief he received. Before Henry can dig deeper, his ex-colleagues who had anything to do with him in the past begin to die one by one. What is going on here?
Since the trailers pretty much gave it away, I won’t be spoiling anything by pointing out that Henry soon finds himself pitted against a younger clone of himself, sent by his boss Clay to kill him because CIA bosses in movies are always nice like that.
Gemini Man isn’t a bad movie, but it has one big problem: it’s singularly unremarkable aside from the whole Deadshot versus the Fresh Prince thing, and even that thing doesn’t come off as very impressive here. The cast may not be at fault here; the main characters are too unmemorable in the first place for Mr Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to do much in their roles. As much as Will Smith’s comedic shtick may be played out by now, that comedic version of the actor is far more interesting that the sober, serious incarnation, which is just boring. Dani is a kick-ass female character, but the movie manages to turn even that kind of character into a forgettable one. The sidekicks and few-scene wonders are far more colorful and interesting, but they can break immersion by having me wonder why a supposedly very dangerous and efficient assassin would be BFFs with a bunch of out of shape, dotty, eccentric colleagues.
The movie also covers many standard, familiar “rogue agent on the loose, against his former employers” tropes done many times before, without making these tropes feel fresh or interesting.
Hence, this one is a watchable movie, with what seems to be some effort to bring up themes like how sometimes monsters are made rather than born. It’s competently put together, yes, but there is also very little that is interesting or memorable here. If you must watch it, it’s probably better to wait for it to hit one of the 500 streaming services starting up over the next few months. Spend that money on interesting and fun things instead!