Gemini Man asks a very important question. The film is about an ageing master assassin who just wants to retire, but is forced to fight for his life against his clone, who is faster, stronger, and has almost the same skills as he does.
But the most important question Gemini Man asks isn't whether cloning humans is ethical, or about the moral issues of being an assassin. No, the real question here is… how much Will Smith can you handle in a single movie?
Smith has always been a larger than life movie star and a fine actor. His personality, his charisma, his looks, the way he talks, raps, and even the way he smirks are so distinct that he is practically a global brand all by himself. So, having not just one, but TWO Will Smiths in a movie should be a guaranteed hit, right?
Well, yes, and no. While that A-list star quality is evident throughout Gemini Man, it also threatens to completely overwhelm then film to the point where it should have been called Will Smith Vs Will Smith: The Will Smith Movie.
Smith plays Henry Brogan, the best assassin in the business, who wants nothing but to retire. Unfortunately, he runs afoul of his government bosse when he finds out about some dodgy business a company called Gemini is up to.
Gemini is headed by the sinister Clay Verris (Clive Owen) who decides to silence Henry by sending his clone, Junior, to kill him. Junior is meant to be the perfect assassin - a clone with all of Henry's skills and physical prowess, but without all the emotional baggage.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Danny, a government agent who gets caught up in the crossfire, while Benedict Wong plays Baron, one of Henry's old war buddies.
To be honest, I quite liked Gemini Man at first. Director Ang Lee does a great job of building up Henry's restless and troubled character, while allowing him to maintain and aura of John Wick-like invulnerability that I would have liked to see more of. At this point, one Will Smith was already enough Will Smith for the entire movie.
However, the movies starts to go downhill when Junior shows up. Visually, the digitally de-aged Smith bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Smith, but having both of them in the same movie is Gemini Man's downfall. Other movies used this technological advancement to great effect (like Captain Marvel with Samuel L. Jackson), but seeing the younger Smith alongside the real Smith evokes a jarring feeling that something is not quite right.
Also, Smith's larger-than-life personality means he tends to dominate any movie he is in, so having two of him around just creates a swirling Will Smith-shaped black hole that none of the other characters or even the storyline can escape from.
What this means is we're then subjected to countless scenes of Smith beating himself up, shooting himself, chasing himself around in motorbikes, and giving himself pep talks, and not much else. It's a pity, because Gemini Man had the potential and premise to be a cult sci-fi movie if it didn't star such a big name. As it is, it's just an average action movie with way too much Will Smith in it.
The writer is a film critic
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