Gemini Man Review: Two Will Smiths at the Cost of Everything Else

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Will Smith and Will Smith in Gemini Man

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gemini Man release date in India is Friday, October 11
  • Smith stars as an aging assassin and a younger clone
  • Life of Pi’s Ang Lee is the director on Gemini Man

Gemini Man is a film that has been more than twenty years in the making. The big reason for that has to do with the approach to the premise — which involves a younger clone of an aging assassin sent to kill him — as the makers wanted to create a computer-generated clone of the protagonist, rather than cast another actor to do the work. For the longest while, the technology didn’t exist to execute that convincingly. But it does now. Owing to the two decade-long delay though, the concept, premise, and underlying themes of Gemini Man have been explored several times. In 2002, Star Trek: Nemesis riffed on the concept (poorly), opting to use Tom Hardy to play the villainous clone of Patrick Stewart. In 2009, Duncan Jones explored the philosophical aspects of cloning with his debut film, Moon. And in 2012, Rian Johnson used time travel and different actors — Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis — for a similar premise.

That doesn’t mean Gemini Man shouldn’t exist. But it does mean it needs to offer something audiences haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, its credited team of creators — the acclaimed director Ang Lee, working off a script by Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff, The Hunger Games co-writer Billy Ray, and Goosebumps writer Darren Lemke — don’t seem to have the faintest idea how to do that. In fact, Gemini Man even fails at being just an action or thriller film, as advertised. The film is largely inert and any momentum that it does build for itself is then squandered in the next lacklustre scene. Its characters have zero depth to them, and hence there’s no emotional engagement to any of it. And entire scenes seem to be missing in between, so it’s likely that much of the character development was abandoned to shrink Gemini Man into a runtime of less than 2 hours. Essentially, the film rings hollow.

For what it’s worth, Gemini Man does actually have something to offer (most) audiences haven’t seen before. Continuing his love for bleeding-edge tech from his previous feature, Lee has shot Gemini Man in extra-high frame rate — 120fps to be precise, which is five times the standard 24fps — at 4K resolution in 3D. (Peter Jackson made The Hobbit trilogy in 48fps, while James Cameron intends to film Avatar sequels in 48 or 60fps. FPS stands for frames per second.) In theory, that means much, much smoother images with an imperceptible flicker. But Lee has spent time and money on technology that forget being appreciated, can’t even be seen as intended by most audiences. Not a single screen in India, or the US for that matter, will screen Gemini Man in 120fps at 4K in 3D. In India in fact, Gemini Man is only available in the plain ol’ 24fps at 2K in 2D. (It’s in IMAX too, if that’s any consolation.)