There have been plenty of movies in which the same actor plays two different characters — either twins or two versions of themselves. Will Smith’s new film tries to put a “fresh” spin on this concept.
In “Gemini Man”, Smith plays Henry Brogan – a government hitman with 72 confirmed kills. On the brink of retirement, Brogan senses he’s in danger. And it turns out the guy that’s out to take him out is his younger, fresher clone.
That’s the hook of “Gemini Man”. But just as intriguing is the fact that the other Smith character, named Junior, was done entirely with CGI through WETA. That’s the company behind the modern “Planet of the Apes” films and this year’s “Alita: Battle Angel”. Junior is the most realistic CG character ever seen in a live-action movie. One of WETA’s goals was to make the eyes of their newest creation not so beady and creepy (a problem with previous CGI “humans” in other movies). The improvement is impressive. There are a couple of very fascinating and convincing scenes in which the two Smiths fight each other.
Another strength of “Gemini Man” is Smith’s grounded, believable performance. And as he seems to do with nearly every project he’s involved in, Smith elevates the script. “Gemini Man”’s screenplay (from the writers of “Game of Thrones”, “Captain Phillips” and… “Turbo”) touches on the topics of aging, career obsession and mental illness. But a key shift in act three turns things soft, and the film definitely loses its edge. And let’s be honest, the concept of creating non-real humans and using them as assassins isn’t exactly fresh. At times “Gemini Man” feels quite retro — and not is a good way.
Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of action, which may disappoint some. And only a few of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s signature slo-mo sequences. The pacing is sluggish and there are more than a few corny moments. Plus, this storyline needed a much better bad guy. Clive Owen, as the head of the Gemini cloning program, is flat and forgettable.
However, “Gemini Man” is better than two-time Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s two previous films (“Life of Pi” and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”), though it’s not worth more than a single viewing.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Gemini Man” gets a C+.
Running Time: 117 min.