Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen
Runtime: 1hr 57min
Some actors are seen the same no matter what film role they choose. They can depict characters from 18th-century authors to astronauts to civil rights activists to brilliant mathematicians. While their acting is formidable and they still draw box office attention, ultimately “you get what you get”. For example, Tom Cruise will use all the acting techniques that he can muster, but at the end of the day, it is still Tom Cruise. And like Cruise, Will Smith suffers from the same thespian affliction. Can he walk stride for stride along the same path of such acting greats as DeNiro, Pacino, Washington and even Caprio? No, he is several steps behind. But his acting in his latest role in Gemini Man is note-worthy and far superior to that of his previous film, where he played a live-action blue genie.
Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, an elite assassin who wants to retire because the over 70 plus kills he has done begin to wear on him. He even notices that he is losing a step or two after his last kill. But Brogan soon learns that retiring is not that easy, especially when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who seems like a younger version of himself; predicting his every move. Brogan soon realizes that the younger version of himself is his clone set out to kill him. He must figure out the “what and why” behind this tenacious attempt on his life.
Director Ang Lee creates a vision of high impact action scenes and stunning visual effects; for the most part. There are scenes toward the end of the film that look like they were pasted together with Elmer’s Glue reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s MTV Sledgehammer video.
But first the pros. The motorcycle scene where Brogan’ s clone, Jr., consistently attacks him like a possessed madman is incredible. Jr. uses the motorcycle as a weapon as if it was nun chucks or if he was masterfully wielding an ax. His pairing in scenes of the older and younger versions of Smith’s character is unbelievable. In the dark background, the computer-generated imagery is mind-blowing. At times, you forget that you are watching the same person.
Then there are the cons. When the background is light or the scenes take place in the daylight, images look like Avatars. It does not look real. At times, it is as if someone cut out an image of Smith’s face and stuck it on a body double. It resembles the figures one would see in a carnival’s funhouse mirrors. But the biggest con of them all (on many levels) is the acting of Clive Owen who portrays the villain of the film, Clay Verris.
When Clive Owen first graced the movie screen in such greats as Sin City, The Inside Man and Children of Men, his prominence in the acting arena was greatly felt and seemed endless. But over the past several years, it seems that his once bright flame is slowly flickering out. Sadly, or mercifully, his appearance in Gemini Man might be the coup de gras. There are instances in the film, where viewers can see a spark of what made him such a well sought-after actor. But for the most part, his trying makes his acting exaggerated and mechanical. His failing in his attempt of trying to be convincing is generic. It is reminiscent of a prizefighter who is past his prime, but fans watch and pull for him hoping he has one last great fight, a Rocky moment. But ironically, this only happens in the movies.
Gemini Man is surprisingly a good film. It has its imperfections as previously mentioned, but the action, visual effects, and story-line keep you intrigued. Ang Lee’s directing along with the presence of Will Smith in an action movie works well together and takes you back to the days of I am Legend and I, Robot.