11 October 2019 19:54
It's a question that the film Gemini Man doesn't really concern itself with. In the new retro-action Will Smith vehicle, the plot revolves around an assassin who's pursued by his own clone, brought to life by the most up-to-date visual effects (and a lot of scenes set in dark rooms), so the title seems appropriate – but the more I've thought about it, the less it makes sense. But now after months of research and debate a solution has been found, and the one true Gemini Man can be revealed – so let's take a look at the likely candidates. From the outside, I'd bet you anything that almost 95% of audience members queuing up would have named Henry Brogan, aka Will Smith Prime, as the titular Gemini Man based on the posters and his starring role. Plus, we can't ignore the fact that if the cloning plot of this film had never happened, Henry Brogan would be a singular man, clone-less.
Or is it more likely that he is, in fact, not the titular Gemini Man? Complicating this issue is the fact that within the world of the film, Gemini is actually a separate entity, a corporation run by baddie Clay Varris (Clive Owen) that plays a very significant role in the plot. Henry has no direct involvement within the Gemini organisation – which might make you wonder if another Will Smith who is a part of it could be the Gemini Man instead… Obviously, then, if Cool Original Will Smith isn't the Gemini Man, it must be his clone – right? While physically they're the same (and surprisingly, they have a very similar personality – director Ang Lee's clearly a nature over nurture guy) Junior's not part of a clear duo with Henry, with different wants, needs and memories and obviously a different age. Will Smith 3, aka that other clone at the end (SPOILERS!!!) I'd argue that of the three Will Smiths present, the unnamed second clone is the most Gemini-est Man in Gemini Man. He's a clone, obviously, and this time he's scrubbed of his own feelings, wants and desires.
But approach this puzzle logically, and you'll see that there's only one true candidate for the one true Gemini Man – Clive Owen. It's also a company that (oddly, given the name) does plenty of things outside of cloning, meaning that the term Gemini in this film can only apply to the company – as I've said, the term Gemini Man never crops up in relation to cloning, or at all in film. And if Gemini is just the company, not the cloning, Clay Varris is its man. He is behind their creation, the thematic doubling at the heart of the story – and while no one clone can be said to be a Gemini Man, a singular man who creates this doubled effect could be. If Gemini Man as a title has a double meaning (and given the etymology, it would seem appropriate that it does), it's a combination of that duality, and the contribution to the cloning storyline – and with his technical status as the only person you could legitimately in conversation refer to as "a Gemini Man", Clay Varris' candidacy looks all but assured.
The high-frame rate 3D technology behind Gemini Man is "a long way from being perfected," says Clariss Loughrey. How well does it work, and will we be trapped in the deepest recesses of the uncanny for Gemini Man's 116-minute run time? "This pseudo-young Will Smith is pretty realistic," he says, "in fact sort of on a par with the real thing – and the older Smith meets the digital youngster half way by being a bit more wooden than usual." "So we could be in for Will Smith action movies for the next thousand years." While the special effects are impressive, they don't save the film from being a bad one, and Bradshaw says "the digital novelty is striking for the first 10 minutes, silly for the next 10 minutes, and by the end of the movie you're pining for the analogue values of script and direction." iNews' sister site The Scotsman says Smith's digital clone "has a whiff of The Sims about it". "The film's failure to navigate its way out of this uncanny valley is compounded by director Ang Lee's even more distracting choice to shoot Gemini Man using the hyper-real high-frame-rate technology," says reviewer Alistair Harkness, commenting on the film's 120 frames-per-second production which gives Gemini Man "the look of a live theatre broadcast". The Metro's Anna Smith is another critic who praises Gemini Man's "extraordinary" visuals, but says it's the other areas in which the film amounts to nothing more than a messy misfire. The script "hands its actors phrases that are wooden, expository and rarely intentionally funny", and while Smith "does his best to perform with sincerity", co-star Clive Owen has "the apologetic look of a man who knows he's in a stinker." Gemini Man was originally conceived in the late '90s, which means it's taken over 20 years to finally reach the screen. "While its long gestation may be attributed to the time it took for filmmaking technology to catch up with its high concept", says Empire's Ben Travis, "it's more likely that the oft-rewritten script is to blame — an awful mishmash of cringeworthy dialogue, tell-don't-show characterisation, and murky plotting." In new action thriller Gemini Man, where there's a Will... Gemini Man's big selling point is that the film features Will Smith as both an aging assassin and the younger clone sent to kill him. It's genuinely impressive when Smith as we know him goes face to face--and even hand to hand--with the digitally de-aged mid-twenties model. Enlarge Image Gemini Man Combine that with Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's choice to use 3D and a higher-than-usual frame rate, and you get a movie that shows off lots of interesting moviemaking technology. Smith plays government assassin Henry Brogan, who's looking to retire when his agency decides he'd be better off dead. Now playing: Watch this: Gemini Man: A closer look at de-aged Will Smith In this day and age, a movie has no business spending as long as Gemini Man does on such a witlessly hackneyed setup. It's hard to properly evaluate Gemini Man's de-aging effect fairly because you're looking so closely at it, but it genuinely doesn't feel weird or obviously fake. We'll probably only be able to tell how good the effect is in a few years by watching the movie again. To be fair, Gemini Man shines in its action scenes. Gemini Man's technological innovation drowns in endless spy cliches, half-heartedly generic twists, forgettable dialogue and non-existent characterization. It also would have been cool to see Smith cut loose playing a real villain. Gemini Man is worth seeing on a big screen, but it won't be remembered as the cinematic milestone it could have been. "Gemini Man" debuts at 3,642 locations, with more than a third of those screening the film in high frame rate 3D+ format, employed by director Ang Lee to show Smith alongside a younger clone of himself. The movie is the last theatrical release by CBS Films before it's absorbed into CBS Corporation's Entertainment Group.