By Anna Husted EBS FILM CRITIC
I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of “Life of Pi” in 2012 at the New York Film Festival where Director Ang Lee introduced the film. There, Lee announced he could not believe so many people wanted to see his movie, and I will never forget his humility, as “Life of Pi” was a bona-fide work of art. Therefore, it is with some hardship that I must give Lee’s “Gemini Man” a poor review.
In the film, Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is the world’s greatest assassin but has decided to retire. The rub? Classic to spy and assassin films, he knows too much. After discovering he is being tailed by Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who ultimately decides to help him rather than turn him in, the two of them take out a dozen or so men trying to kill them. Cue the government’s execution of Operation Gemini.
Gemini was crystalized 25 years earlier in a bid to harness Brogan’s skills as a hitman through clones, and the operation’s leader Clay Verris (Clive Owen) cloned Brogan without his knowledge. Now Brogan must fight the younger version of himself to save himself.
The plot alone is absurd even for fans of science fiction.
Not to mention, Smith is overused as two characters, Owen is mediocre and Winstead spends so much time explaining what is going on that we lose faith in Lee’s storytelling because he has lost faith in us as a smart audience.
Not only is the storytelling flimsy, but the computer-generated imagery (CGI) is not realistic enough yet to base an entire film around replicating Will Smith, only 30 years younger. Enough is enough; directors should stop trying to outdo James Cameron, only he can pull this type of cinematic stunt off.
Speaking of stunts, and a good example of Lee’s shortcomings in leaning too much on Cameronian CGI: There is a motorcycle chase scene early in the film that looks fake—because it was fake. The entire sequence is computer-generated. For now, using mostly stunt people and actual motorcycles looks better than an entire CGI scene. Lee should have opted for the tried and true.
The film’s redeeming quality is in its hand-to-hand fight choreography, which, thank God, there is a lot of, and the action is impressive because Smith and Winstead are fun to watch in action.
There was an opportunity for comedic relief in the film, but Baron (Benedict Wong) is killed off. They tried to bring some back in the final scene, but it ultimately feels hokey and forced.
“Gemini Man” is overall entertaining. It took me some time to get past the absurdity, but once I did, I enjoyed myself. We may ultimately look back and regard “Gemini Man” as a groundbreaking film, leading the charge for new leaps in CGI and, for Lee’s sake, I hope we do. As for now, stick with one Will Smith at a time.
“Gemini Man” is now playing in theaters.
Anna Husted has a master’s in film studies from New York University. In Big Sky she can be found skiing or at the movies at Lone Peak Cinema. When not gazing at the silver screen or watching her new favorite TV show, she’s reading, fishing or roughhousing with her cat, Indiana Jones.