Frustratingly Dull Action Movie

Review of Gemini Man

More stories from PeytonB

Who’s In, Who’s Out
February 20, 2020


The poster for Gemini Man, in theaters everywhere.

Just a few days ago, I thought about how lucky I had been to finally see some good movies as 2019 began to draw to a close. To be completely honest, I wish I hadn’t said that. Why? Because Gemini Man hadn’t been released yet.

Gemini Man is directed by Ang Lee and stars Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an aging hit-man who is renowned for his incredible skill with a rifle. However, after an incident involving a little girl, he decides to retire, claiming that his years of missions are messing with his head. Almost immediately, he finds himself on the run from a mysterious assassin who just might be his clone.

Lee has proven himself a masterful director over the past two decades, most recently for the visually stunning Life of Pi. He’s also a very experimental filmmaker, and he shows that by making a strange choice of shooting Gemini Man in 120 frames per second, instead of the usual 24. It’s probably easy to tell that I wasn’t a huge fan of it.

Since I’m trying to become a positive person, let’s start off with what’s good about this film. All of the performances are actually quite strong. No matter how underwritten his character was, Smith kept his character grounded in a larger than life story. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also great as Danny, an agent assigned to watch over Brogan during his retirement, and eventually goes on the run with him. Another positive is Lorne Balfe’s score. Balfe is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s go-to composers. His music is really exciting, and provides the only emotion in the movie as well as some compositions that are quite beautiful.

Sadly, the negatives easily outweigh the positives. Gemini Man was just plain bad, and there really isn’t any way to put it lightly. The biggest problem is easily the script, which doesn’t provide any characterization or even a remotely exciting story. It’s well documented that the film had significant trouble getting off of the ground, as the original draft was written back in 1997. Three different writers were given credit for the script, and it shows. These three writers became famous for entirely different genres, which makes the movie breathtakingly dull. It seems to realize this in the third act when it attempts to throw in a random discussion about clones and whether or not they can be regarded as real people. If given enough screen-time, this discussion could’ve been thought-provoking, but instead, it seemed like a last resort of making the audience care about the heroes.

Also, as expected, the age regression technology is laughably bad at times. The younger Will Smith usually appears in scenes that are set in tunnels or at nighttime, where the CGI actually looks phenomenal. But, there is a scene that takes place in the daytime that will evoke memories of Henry Cavill’s half-erased mustache in Justice League. The CGI used in this scene caused me to cringe in my seat, and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was watching. The technique of shooting the film in 120 frames per second was also a colossal misfire. Instead of making the audience feel as if we’re actually in the moment, I couldn’t help but focus on how every aspect of every shot was in focus, regardless of its importance. In other words, it looked as if the film had been shot with an iPhone, a look that a big-budget action movie should avoid at all costs.

The action isn’t that bad. Obviously, when your movie has the stunt coordinator from John Wick: Chapter Two, all of the hand to hand scenes are going to look great, with an added bonus of the actors doing some of their own stunts. However, there is an unintentionally hilarious scene in which the younger Will Smith starts fighting with a motorcycle, at which point I checked out completely.

Overall, Gemini Man has an interesting premise and some good performances, but poor execution and a poor script bog the film down into mediocrity. Audiences want to like movies like this, because they have the potential to be so much fun. But, without characters or a story to back up the action, this is easily one of the worst movies of the year.

Rating: D+