Gemini Man Second Opinion: A Plodding, Predictable, Telegraphed Thriller Mutable



Gemini Man, for all its CGI, has so many overused film cliches it’s an insult to the term trope.

Ang Lee is one of the world’s great auteurs and remains one of the film industry’s finest feature film directors in the past three decades. From his deeply personal Eat, Drink, Man, Woman to his ultimate cinematic handshake agreement between the studio system and a filmmaker of pure artistry with Life of Pi, his visions frequently touch on family, tradition, and times of great change (see The Ice Storm). Whether it’s an adaptation or a vision of his own original creation, he makes films that are uniquely his; he’s no different than any storyteller like Capote or Steinbeck. That’s what makes his new thriller, Gemini Man, all the more shocking. It doesn’t seem to stand for or have much to say about anything other than its visually marveling special effects.

Will Smith is agent Henry Brogan, who’s the best of his kind, a government assassin with no equal, who’s over the age of fifty and wants to call it a career. When his former bosses (played by Clive Owen and Linda Edmunds) hear about his plan they can’t let someone who has this much sensitive information retire in the Key West while deep-sea fishing. So they do what the bad guys do in these movies: unleash a killer from a program named Gemini; a younger, stronger, faster assassin who can predict Brogan’s every move. Of course, from trailers, you know this is a cloned version of Will Smith, looking young and buffer than his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days. Sadly, it takes nearly half the film to get to that point, making for a plodding thriller without any real excitement to be had.

Gemini Man is a handsome looking film, I’ll give it that; it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect and it needed to back the armored truck up to complexes all across the country. The problem here is the new thriller is the equivalent of asking the prettiest girl in school to the dance, but realizing you’ve made a huge mistake on the insufferable car ride over. The problem here is the film’s script; when you have a piece that was written in 1997 and has changed hands at least a half dozen times the result is a film that not only loses its way but also the reason behind what it was trying to say. For all its CGI, that wears thin quickly, it can’t camouflage the numerous overused film clichés that are forced upon us here — it’s an insult to the term trope (the absolute zero chemistry Smith has with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, romantic or friendly, is tedious at best, as is their mind-numbing and pointless dialogue). The film’s final attempt at a twist is so pathetically obvious it practically tries to “twin” itself inside its own movie.

Will Smith has had, to put it mildly, a rough decade; He has had ten-long years of more misses than hits. The former king of the July Fourth weekend films, besides the Disney built-in audience and that company’s certified seal of approval with Aladdin, has reliably starred in films that have all either crashed at the box office or underperformed to the point of losing money (while we haven’t touched on the massive critical blunders). He needs to concentrate on more character-driven stories like Ali or The Pursuit of Happyness; even a limited series on a premium network like HBO from a strong writer. Maybe, though, he thought he could do both by combining a big-budget thriller with a legendary filmmaker to earn some much-needed respect. They seemed to have been on different pages here, with too many hands in the kitchen, and Lee going for a paycheck and Smith attempting one final shot at respect again.

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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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