The best way to go into two-time Best Director Oscar winner Ang Lee’s Gemini Man is to leave any sense of reality you have at the door.
Lee, whom I have interviewed twice, (Ride With The Devil and Brokeback Mountain), is one of the best directors ever. Period.
While the story of Gemini Man, where an about to retire hitman (Will Smith) faces off against a younger clone of himself (Will Smith), leaves a lot to be desired, the concept (of using a CGI character to play a younger version of the main character) is intriguing, and the direction is superb.
The film opens in Belgium, Smith’s character Henry Brogan, (a CIA agent, of sorts), quite possibly the best assassin to ever live, on his stomach in a field, holding a rifle, waiting for a bullet train to whiz by him, in order to put a bullet in the head of a target on the train.
In the next scene we see Brogan in Buttermilk, Georgia, his hometown, finding out that the man he killed was not an enemy. He was set up. The powers that be, presided over by Clay (Oscar nominee Clive Owen), immediately set out to kill him because of what he knows. But it is not just another assassin that is sent out to destroy Brogan, it is his clone, a 30 year younger version of himself.
The minute the clone appears in the picture, more than thirty minutes into the film, things start to get convoluted. First of all, the CGI, or whatever you want to call the computer deaging of Smith as the clone, is simply awful. The clone doesn’t resemble anything Smith looked like while he was in his 20s. All you need to do is go onto YouTube and search for ‘Fresh Prince.’ There is no similarity, at all.
During their first meeting, Brogan could have easily killed his clone. But he hesitates. He feels something for his clone. And wants to find out a lot more, as well.
The rest of the film has Brogan trying to earn the trust of his clone, all while being chased by his clone (because, unbeknownst to Brogan, he has a tracking device implanted in him so that his handlers always know where he is).
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an unnecessary and throwaway character, a fellow CIA (type) operative who was sent to spy on Brogan, but who becomes his ally.
The film was co-written by David Benioff (the writer of the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones) and is easily as confusing as 15 minutes of any Game Of Thrones episode.
While the film isn’t dreadful, it is hardly anything you’d want to rush out to see in theaters, or see twice, ever. Don’t expect a Best Director, a Best Screenplay or any acting Oscar nominations for this film. It is more on the par of Lee’s dreadful Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk, rather than Life Of Pi, Sense and Sensibility or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chances are his next film, Thrilla In Manilla, based on the third and final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, will allow Lee to return to his Oscar contention glory.