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Review: GEMINI MAN (2019) Is Faker Than Will Smith

Gemini Man (2019) - Henry Brogan (Will Smith)
Read this review to find out if Gemini Man (2019) is worth watching.

Gemini Man has grand ambitions to be a psychological action-thriller but it falls flat. Ang Lee and Will Smith try hard to combine a rip-roaring action film with a psychological thriller. But they miss the mark.

Will Smith's latest action movie is the story of Henry Brogan (Will Smith) who's an elite government assassin. He's frequently called the "best" in the world. The opening scene shows him shooting a target from miles away through the window of a moving bullet train. Clearly, the guy is amazing but if you haven't had any experience shooting you have to take the movie's word for it. I know I haven't.

Brogan announces he's retiring since he hesitated. He says the decades of killing dozens of people is wearing on him. Suddenly he's targeted by a young hit-man hunting him down. Along with a fellow agent named Dani Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and an old buddy Baron (Benedict Wong) the three travel around the world to find out who the "mysterious" assassin is. They also search for what connection the head of a top-secret black ops unit codenamed "GEMINI", Clay Verris (Clive Owen), has to do with everything.

The first thing you should know is not a spoiler. Every single trailer and movie poster tells us that the assassin is a young Will Smith. But the movie goes to great pains to hide it. The guy named "Junior" wears a helmet to hide his face and he only shows up halfway through the movie. So the movies biggest "twist" is given away by the marketing department. Gemini Man suffers because the first half of the movie is spent waiting for Young Will Smith to show up. It makes the scenes waiting tedious and confusing.

The second thing you need to know about Gemini Man is it was originally pitched by Darren Lemketo to Disney back in 1997. Tony Scott was originally slated to direct. The script sat in development hell for years till it got picked up and Ang Lee (Hulk) attached to direct. Gemini Man is set in modern-day but assumes the technology used is commonplace. But it isn't and it makes the movie feel very "science-fictiony" when it's supposed to feel grounded.

Gemini Man uses the idea that he's fighting himself as a way of exploring Brogan's character. Who is he? What drives him? Why would he decide to stop killing? This theme flows through the entire film but falls hollow in the face of science.

Henry goes on a voyage of self-discovery through his doppelganger but it's scientifically impossible. He has many conversations with his double where he empathizes with him, but it's impossible. If Junior was raised differently than Henry why would Junior feel the same way? If Junior was raised to be an assassin from birth why would he have the same hangups as Henry? The voyage of self-discovery that Henry goes through is impossible unless you believe every aspect of our personality comes from genetics and not life experience.

The action scenes are amazing but hollow. There are incredibly crafted fight scenes. The highlights are fights on motorcycles and a bone-crunching fight in a Columbian tomb. But every scene with young Will Smith is a digital double. It feels fake. Sometimes two as digital Young Will Smith fights digital Old Will Smith. So every scene with Young Smith feels faker.

Gemini Man also has a strange "not-love" story in it. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) makes Dani tough and bold but still feminine. She's a unique action hero. While Henry says he doesn't find Dani attractive the two go on a date and he says that if he were younger he'd be into her. This is probably because Zakarweski is decades younger than Smith. They never kiss or anything but it feels like an unfulfilled romance.

Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) plays Baron as laid-back but fiercely loyal. He also gives off a sense of presence that makes him feel tough even though he never fights anyone. Clive Owen (Children of Men) gives Verras a vicious intensity yet is tender at times. A guy you love to hate. Although he does sell his character's twisted motivation he too often falls into his "generic-bad-guy" mode.

Ang Lee crafts a decent action movie but the technology used takes away from the effect. Overall Gemini Man is hollow and empty but looks amazing. It's far down the list of Will Smith's best science-fiction movie roles.

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars. Skip Gemini Man in theaters and wait for home video: 

About Gemini Man

  • Directed by Ang Lee
  • Written by David Benioff, Billy Ray, Darren Lemke
  • Synopsis: Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.
  • Release date: October 11, 2019
  • Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown, Linda Emond, Ilia Volok, E.J. Bonilla, Victor Hugo, David Shae, Theodora Miranne, Diego Adonye, Lilla Banak, Igor Szasz
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