Will Smith is an absolutely fantastic actor, but he seems to have terrible taste in the movies he chooses to star in lately. Gemini Man is no exception to this trend. The movie has a few truly enjoyable action scenes, admittedly. It is otherwise held down by cliché, subpar writing, and technical choices that, while innovative, detract from the overall presentation.
Smith plays an assassin at the end of his career, hanging up his rifle at the realization that he’s beginning to lose his step. Shortly after his retirement, the DIA implements the standard government assassin retirement plan: sending a younger assassin to kill him. In short order, it’s revealed that this isn’t just a younger assassin; it’s a younger version of himself in the most literal of senses. If this sounds unoriginal, that’s because it is. It’s essentially Bruce Willis’ Looper but with cloning instead of time travel, the government instead of the mob, and a somewhat happier ending. This younger assassin is also played by Smith via de-aging CGI and motion capture. Smith’s natural charisma is one of the film’s few saving graces, as is the director Ang Lee’s eye for over-the-top action. Still, even these Hollywood legends can’t elevate this bog-standard sci-fi action movie.
The other notable aspects of this movie are its attempts at technical innovation. Rather than using a younger actor with a resemblance to a young Smith, the film makes use of digital effects and editing to allow Smith to play both roles. The effect works well enough at times that I kept expecting Uncle Phil to pop out of some corner to break up the fighting, but the edits detract from the overall flow and appearance. The effect wears thin to the point of reaching the uncanny valley phenomenon at several points. In addition to this, the movie was filmed at 120 frames per second (FPS). For reference, most movies are filmed at 24 FPS. It’s an interesting notion, but it is also one that most theaters in the United States are unprepared to keep up with. This effect creates a soap opera look that seems more at home on a daytime TV screen than in IMAX.
All in all, 2 out of 5.
Please pick better films, Will Smith.