Movie: ‘Gemini Man’
Director: Ang Lee (‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Life of Pi’)
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen
Sometimes people’s own worst enemies can be themselves. That’s certainly the case for Will Smith’s anti-hero, Henry Brogan, in the upcoming sci-fi film, ‘Gemini Man.’ Not only does the government-sanctioned assassin have to contend with his own internal struggle of whether he made the right moral decisions throughout his career, but also physically fight his younger clone that he never knew he had, until he’s thrust into battle with him. The Ang Lee-directed thriller, which Paramount Pictures is set to release in theaters in 3D and IMAX in the U.S. this Friday, aims to showcase the clash of the idealistic youth with their more experienced elders; while the younger generations want to take any means necessary to protect their country from its enemies with as little pain as possible to their fellow citizens, the older generations have to take whatever means necessary to prove to their successors that there are lasting moral ramifications that arise from their actions.
‘Gemini Man’ follows Henry, a celebrated assassin who has successfully taken out 72 targets for America’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) with unparalleled precision. However, as he enters his 50s, and he realizes that his aim isn’t what it used to be, the hit man starts to contemplate his life choices, and ponders what would happen if he didn’t always strike his target. Those twinges of conscience lead him to decide to retire from the agency, much to the dismay of his supervisors.
Now weary of his assassination profession, and contemplating the morality of state-sanctioned murder, management at the DIA has other plans for Henry. After one of his allies still within the agency informs Henry that his boss didn’t give him accurate information about the details of his last job, Henry decides to go rogue and fight back. One of his chief new enemies is his former Army colleague, Clay Varris (Clive Owen), who’s now a military-industrial biotech tycoon. Clay’s working on a secret unit of genetically engineered assassins who are altered to kill without remorse. So he decides to send out his personal favorite, Junior (a digitally de-aged Smith in a dual role), a 25-year-old clone of Henry whom Varris has raised as his adopted son.
Clay and his fellow top agent, Janet Lassiter (Linda Emond), feel as though Henry knows too much information about the DIA and its current cases to be allowed to retire peacefully to his house on the Georgian coast. So the military-industrial leader sends Junior, the younger, faster version of the DIA’s top assassin, to kill the older version of himself. In an effort to protect himself, Henry decides to go on the run with a fellow DIA officer that the agency sent to watch him, Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). They enlist the help of another former Army colleague of Henry’s, pilot Baron (Benedict Wong), to fly them where they need to go to hunt down Junior. As loyalties shift and Henry, Danny and Baron determinedly fight back against Clay and Janet, the former assassin finally comes face to face with his young doppelganger in a blaze of gunfight that significantly alters everyone’s priorities, perspectives and futures.
‘Gemini Man’ effectively thrives on its message that faster speeds are the most accurate and exhilarating, particularly when it comes to its stunning visual effects. Lee worked with Academy Award-winning cinematographer, Dion Beebe (who recently worked on last year’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns‘), to create an enhanced adaptation of the high-resolution 3D format the helmer established for his 2016 military drama, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.’ The success of the filmmaker’s new action movie is largely driven by its visually striking 3D, which was shot in 60 to 120 fps (frames per second) Dolby Vision.
Only 14 AMC theaters in the US will play ‘Gemini Man’ at 120 fps, on its Dolby Cinema screens, in 2K resolution, while other theaters have opted to just screen the thriller in 4K resolution. However, the overall immersive and richly detailed way Beebe shot the sci-fi feature gives it an intriguing sense of hyper-realism, no matter how it’s viewed on screen. The 3D option adds to the spectacular visual detailing, from the side of a high-speeding train that appears to be jumping out into the audience, to a slow-motion explosions that seems to scatter broken glass into the crowd.
While Lee, Beebe and Smith all have experience shooting high-action spectacles throughout their careers, and have proven their expertise in the special effects field, the storyline and character arcs in ‘Gemini Man’ unfortunately don’t live up to the development of some of their previous films. Their newest thriller, which was written by David Benioff, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke, sets up a thought-provoking, moral story that aims to show the questionable ethics, particularly in science, that the government at times takes to advance their defense tactics. Unfortunately, Henry’s growing internal struggle over how he should approach his chosen career path is soon overtaken by the high caliber stunts and action sequences that drive the majority of the plot.
‘Gemini Man’ is a conscientious, intriguing sci-fi-driven action film that provocatively questions the morality of state-sanctioned murder. With Henry now finally starting to experience bouts of conscience as he enters middle age, and agonizing over how many lives he has ended throughout his government career, the drama presents a vital, thought-provoking message for modern society. While the characters and their motivations ultimately aren’t fully flushed out, the movie’s success is largely driven by its visually striking 3D. Its captivating sense of hyper-realism ultimately surpasses the at-times undeveloped plot points, and prove that Lee and Smith are still leaders in the action genre.