Gemini Man ★★★

In 1997, Will Smith released his cover of “Just The Two of Us”, reframing the song about the relationship between himself and his son.

In 1999, Mike Myers released his parody of “Just the Two of Us”, reframing the song the relationship between Dr. Evil and his clone.

Now, 20 years later, Ang Lee has completed the trilogy with Gemini Man, a movie starring Will Smith and Will Smith’s son-clone, also played by Will Smith. 


HOW WAS ‘JUST THE TWO OF US’ NOT USED IN THE MARKETING?!?!

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It’s hard not to see a new Ang Lee joint. Even though he has shifted his weight nearly entirely into technical spectacle, I still value his ambition and his earnestness. This film has both of those, but it needed one thing more—it needed a script! The plotting is strained, the characters are thin, and the dialogue at several points is laughable. 

All the energy that could have gone into the writing surely must have gone into the HFR camera work because hot damn. The film starts slow but the action set pieces are something to look at. Most compellingly, the extra frames enhance the great choreography to capture a balance of kineticism and coherence that is so rare. Among other experiments and innovations, Lee often uses first-person perspective in the heat of firefights between the two Wills in alternation with third-person steadycam drifts when they move from cover to cover. The experience it most evoked for me was playing a Time Crisis shooter at the arcade. You really feel immersed and have quite a bit fun watching Will and Mini-Me duke it out. 

On the subject of Smith’s youthful clone, that is one place that Lee’s ventures into the future of cinematic technology are less fruitful. In short, the de-aging effect is pretty uneven. About two thirds of the time, looking at “Junior” is astonishing—you’ll believe you are seeing a younger Will Smith. The other moments have the same silly discomfort that we’re all familiar with from other (even more) premature uses of the tech. A scene near the end, in particular, puts an undue amount of weight on the effect and it just can’t handle it. There were audible laughs in my theater.  

Still though, as a modern action romp with new fangled camera wizardry to add some extra captivation, the moments of silliness really don’t spoil the broth. Gemini Man is kind of like liquid nitrogen ice cream—it’s tasty and it makes you feel futuristic, but it would be great if it didn’t cost $26.

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