'Gemini Man' review: An underwhelming package

Director: Ang Lee
 
Cast: Will Smith, Benedict Wong, Clive Owen
 
Score: 2.5

What do you get when you mix a script stuck in stasis for two decades, with the technical genius of Ang Lee, the acting of Clive Owen and somehow a resurgent Will Smith, with a weak, cliched story? Gemini Man is the answer.

Herny Brogan (Smith) is a top assassin, a fact repeated throughout the film no less than half a dozen times, who is tasked with killing a certain bio-terrorist. However, despite his clearly cold calmness to the act, he is disturbed by the act and decides to bow out.

Of course, his bosses don't take it well, especially after he uncovers disturbing facts about the hit, triggering a lengthy, sometimes unnecessary chain of events when Borgan goes hopping around the world, chased by...himself.

It's not an understatement to tell that Gemini Man's story idea is something we've seen in other, perhaps forms. It's a classics Man vs Self trope, mixed with a little bit of Man vs Nature, in the sense that can a man escape his nature and forge a path different from one chosen for him by an external party.

Despite the subservience to tropes, Gemini Man had a lot of potential, and may have been cutting-edge filmmaking if it came out back when it was pitched. However, the decades have not been kind to the idea, with the final product clearly bogged down by a need to adhere to the original idea, despite the clear difference in time. It features a cookie-cutter antagonist in Clay Varris (Owen), a man who parrots the classic my-country-'tis-of-thee jingoism disguised as enterprise, while playing God with DNA.

However, the acting is surprisingly top-notch, and certainly not expected of modern-day Will Smith. After years of mediocre, uninspiring acting, Smith has finally recovered a fraction of the spark that led him to stardom in Men in Black and Independence Day. In Gemini Man, Smith seems somewhat more free, less constrained than most of his previous outings, letting more than a few slivers of his acting chops shine through.

The effect on Smith's acting is clearly amplified through a strong supporting cast, not discounting him playing a younger version of himself, allowing some good emotional moments to shine, particularly in the middle of the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong, too, offer a substantial role as Danny and Baron.

The effects work is also wonky. For most of the film, the younger Smith, achieved through CGI, is believable. One could be forgiven for almost thinking the filmmakers got a doppelganger for Smith for a little bit, but by the end, it all falls apart as the CGI becomes unbearably obvious like it's from the mid-2000s-early 2010s or something.

Another thing taking its toll on the film is the speed. Putting aside the pacing, which just goes from one end of the world to another like a stroll in the park, the film itself feels fast. It speeds up and slows down at various points, with the fast bits clearly focused on the action-heavy scenes. It's good technical proficiency, but it probably would've been better to go with a more consistent speed throughout the film,

All in all, Gemini Man is a fairly underwhelming package. It's got a few good individual bits here and there, but it doesn't necessarily gel with the rest of it, creating an odd total that seems to struggle to get comfortable.

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