Posted Oct 11 2019

Gemini Man - This Smith V Smith Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Ang Lee

Starring Will Smith, Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong

A filmmaker determined to embrace new technology and expand the visual possibilities of contemporary filmmaking, Ang Lee sadly drops the digital ball on this one. And on a fairly basic level. Yes, the notion of contemporary Will Smith battling a de-aged Fresh Prince era Will smith in a high octane all out assassination-themed action movie may have looked super cool on paper. But it adds up to more of an idea than a story. And not even Smith’s (double) star power and Lee’s generally astute direction can solve that conundrum.

Smith the elder is a crack government off the books assassin who, when he decides to retire, needs to be eliminated himself. The person recruited to do so is a clone of his younger self – who has no idea who, or even what, he is. He just knows (like Smith the elder) that he is very good at his job and very determined to fulfil it. Like “father”, like…”clone…thing…”

The movie works quite well for its first half hour or so, dealing with an assassin’s desire to get out of the game and make some sort of life for himself beyond same. It starts to come apart with the introduction of Fresh Prince era Will (who despite the technical achievements here, still looks and – especially – sounds odd.) If he had been played as a naturalistic character, things may have worked better. But he is an all- somersaulting, leaping, jumping Tasmanian Devil of a young man, seeming to defy the laws of physics as much as he embraces the tenants of science fiction.

Once his back story is revealed, to both us and Smith the elder, there are huge existential questions that could be examined here, but Lee choses to eschew those in favour of yet another “daddy issues” American action movie.

Visually ambitious – and in those terms successful on many levels. But ultimately disappointing. Especially coming from the wonderful Mr Lee.

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