Gemini Man is being billed as an action movie. That’s not really a surprise, it’s pretty much what I would expect to see coming from a Will Smith movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. However, if Gemini Man is anything, it’s actually a thriller. That’s not to say that there isn’t action in the film, you’re never more aware that this is a Bruckheimer film then during a gun fight being held in the middle of a dirtbike chase through the streets of Columbia. There are plenty of fisticuffs and guns in the movie, but there’s a lot more silencers than I’m used to in a Bruckheimer flick. It’s kind of a thriller through that prism.
Will Smith faces-off with a younger clone of himself on the eve of his retirement. It’s a simple premise, but built up with a great deal more intrigue and espionage surrounding it. Smith himself is an odd choice for this role, he’s one of those actors, much like Tom Cruise or Johnny Depp who don’t visibly age. It would have made more sense with Clint Eastwood, who the script was originally written for in the 90’s. The real trick in this film is not so much trying to make Smith look young (with de-aging CGI), but rather trying to make him look older. Either they’ve added some gray or he’s stopped dying his hair. Either way there is a concerted effort to create a salt and pepper tone to his head and beard, as well as some extra ageing added through the conturing of his make up. Nevertheless, the age difference remains a great deal more subtle then I prefer for this type of film. Even more disconcerting is the young clone. While convincing, there’s somthing not right about it – especially to of us who grew up watching the fresh Prince of Bel-Air and know what Will Smith looked like at this age… something is a bit off, though I doubt it will really throw off younger viewers.
Smith is still playing to type here, albeit an older and slightly more cynical version of himself. It’s much the same character that we saw him play in Suicide Squad. Benedict Wong is an excellent supporting cast, perfect when we need comic relief and reliable when we need back up. I’m most impressed though, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead. My main exposure to her is of course, Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, and that’s a bit of a problem. I absolutely hate the character of Ramona Flowers and that’s strange because in this film Winstead is so much more likeable. She elevates her performance and redeems herself from that role, giving us a competent female lead that is still likeable while being tough as nails. I kind of want to see more of Winstead now in other roles.
The film doesn’t really bother with a love story sub plot, it doesn’t have time. It’s self aware enough though to make it an issue – talking about how there are certain things you give up for the life of an assassin. It’s a good way of addressing the elephant in the room without catering to it.
If I have any real complaints it’s the negative way in which fathers are portrayed– Of course the evil dude in charge of the clone isn’t a real father, even if he says he is, but I always bristle when fatherhood is kind of trashed in this manner.
Gemini Man is a good, fast paced, globetrotting thriller that will keep you engaged though you won’t find too many surprises here. Even the twist towards the end can be seen coming a mile away.
Gemini Man opens in theaters nationwide October 11.