Wednesday 30 October 2019

Gemini Man ★☆☆☆☆

Since bursting into cinemas in the 1990s after delighting the world with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith is certainly one of the biggest box office superstars of his time. And at the moment, he’s having something of a resurgence – his recent performance as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin drew particular controversy! But visionary director Ang Lee’s latest, Gemini Man, proves that perhaps the world has finally had enough of the star. Gemini Man stars not one but two Will Smiths and is still projected to lose up to 60 million dollars at the box office. Why is the film doing so badly?

Originally conceived in 1997, Gemini Man went through development hell for almost 20 years. Unfortunately for all involved, the wait was not worth it. For starters, what may have been a unique and original premise in ’97 certainly isn’t in 2019. The film feels like something we’ve seen before a hundred times…

Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, an elite assassin ready to hang up his gun and retire after his 72nd hit. His plans are turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who, seemingly, is able to predict his every move. To his horror, he learns he is being chased by a younger, faster version of himself – also played through Will Smith, behind very distracting de-ageing technology. Yep, if you’ve seen Looper, Logan or Star Trek: Nemesis then you’ll have a pretty good idea where this is going.

While similar de-ageing technology was utilised in Martin Scorsese’s 2019 masterpiece The Irishman, it was second to a phenomenal narrative that absorbed me to the point of not even noticing it. As far as I was concerned, I was watching a middle-aged Robert De Niro. Here, a nonsensical and predictable plot means that all you will be able to see is the rubber-faced CGI Will Smith’s often unnatural movements, made worse by the film’s innovative but divisive high-frame-rate release – some cinemas were able to run the film in 120fps, which made for an uncomfortably smooth viewing experience. Kevin Maher of The Times labelled the film ‘aesthetically repellent’, which certainly reflects the discomfort of having to endure 120 minutes of it. It genuinely made me feel unwell.

Gemini Man is, unfortunately, one of those films that have next to nothing going for it. Each of the issues would’ve been bad enough on their own but could’ve possibly been somewhat negated by a positive. For example, the bad CGI wouldn’t have been an issue if the plot was good, and vice versa. But here, there are no positives. Gemini Man is an overly CGI’d and cliché-ridden mess, stuck in the 1990s and not feeling even remotely fresh or vibrant in the crowded marketplace of big-screen action thrillers. 

An overwhelmingly disappointing shit show, 20 years in the making. Visually garish, not particularly well-performed and poorly written, this one should’ve stayed in development hell. Feeling like a straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal romp, Gemini Man is one to avoid like the plague. 

Sam Love

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