I’ve never been more conflicted walking into a movie cinema - who was I going to go for? Will Smith or Will Smith?! I liked them both!
There has been much hype around the release of ‘Gemini Man’ due to the technology and CGI used to create a younger version of Will Smith. And when I say much hype, I mean my 13-year-old cousin told me in the car the week before about it. Nevertheless, I was still intrigued. Having taken a VR Masterclass in LA a week before about the future technology of film - 360-degree lenses, CGI and virtual reality - a piece of me was excited to see what Ang Lee had in store.
A complete side note, but if you were to ask any of my close peers how they would describe me, “over-enthusiastic, quirky art teacher” would be a general response. So, it’s highly likely (and I’m just assuming here) that a kooky, pink-haired, 20-year-old film student wasn’t Ang Lee’s go-to target audience. As my father was unavailable to attend... I took Michael, an equally kooky 20-year-old male. He’d be into action movies, right? Even so, I strived for fairness and was open to his opinion. After we both pheened over our 3D glasses and talked about how this wasn’t a usual film we’d go see, it occurred to me that my plan for equity had failed. I brought a Kubrick fan to an Ang Lee action film.
‘Gemini Man’ is the story of an elite assassin, Henry Brogan (Will Smith; ‘Men In Black’’ franchise, ‘I Am Legend’) is being hunted by the Defence intelligence Agency. After mildly escaping their attempt to kill him, an assassin is deployed to kill Henry. His skill, training and targeting are a perfect match to Henry’s. It becomes apparent that this assassin, Junior (Will Smith; ‘The Pursuit of Happyness,’ ‘Seven Pounds,’) is a younger version of Henry and a replicated clone. The two must consult their burdens and past to move forward and resolve their conflict and vendetta against those who have wronged them.
In essence, this film is an action movie with great escapism qualities for the viewer that wants to watch gun sequences, stunts and fights. There’s nothing special or original in way of its plot because it’s the same big government agency out to get the "innocent but really cool killer guy". We’ve seen it before... a few times. But I think it would be unfair to minimise the film to this. We all know Lee is capable of telling great stories - 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ Oscar-winning ‘Life Of Pi’ - but I don’t think this film was about creating an enthralling narrative. It was a play piece, a passion project, used to test and challenge the limits of technology in film. Credit where credit is due, Ang Lee was ballsy enough to take a shot at looking into what the film industry could be in the next 30 years. It’s why they have a younger Will Smith, 3D HFR and digitally constructed fight sequences.
Sure, the film finished and Michael and I both agreed the plot was safe and it really does stick to the "boy runs, meets girl and keeps running" framework - but if you want to see it for more than that, at least respect it’s go-getter exploration of a new digital world.
A century ago, man was just getting started with movies - heck, we even had sound and colour to explore. ‘Gemini Man’ deserves to be acknowledged for its purposeful step towards discovering what potentially lies out there for the future of movies and the capacity of the technology. Sure, the film finished and Michael and I both agreed the plot was safe and it really does stick to the "boy runs, meets girl and keeps running" framework - but if you want to see it for more than that, at least respect it’s go-getter exploration of a new digital world.