Ang Lee is a director with a respectable track record behind him, with the likes of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and “Life of Pi”. Now he’s back helming “Gemini Man” with a script co-penned by “Game of Thrones” co-showrunner David Benioff and starring Will Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Smith stars as Henry Brogan, a best in class sniper-assassin who wants to retire from the business and his bosses decide he needs to be retired the permanent way.
Winstead plays agent Danny Zakarewski, assigned to surveillance duty on the newly retired Brogan. When the goons come in to put the hit on Brogan, Zakarewski winds up caught in the crossfire and joins in on the run. If there’s anything in the storyline that sounds familiar, you’re right. The trope of “agent wants to retire but knows dirt about the bosses so they decide to snuff him out,” is one of the most frequent in recent spy/agent dramas. When the current bar is being set by the likes of Jason Bourne and John Wick, there needs to be something to keep an audience’s interest.
The hook for this one is that the big secret that the bosses are trying to hide is that a military contractor unit is out to make clones of Brogan so that they can have more perfect sniper-assassins, but without anyone to mourn them if they get offed while in a mission. Now, skipping the entire part that cloning an individual to recreate a learned skill isn’t at all how it would work, it does make for some novel moments of seeing a younger, 24 year-old version of Will Smith fighting the 51 year-old version. Unfortunately the stunt work is inflicted with so many film speed-up moments that it feels jarring and artificial – the stand out moments being the first motorcycle chase between the two.
The CGI work on his face is impressive, though Lee leans in too hard on trying to replicate Smith’s mouth and lip mannerisms that they’re overplayed and feels like they’re on a loop.
Winstead does her best to bring some level of performance to Danny’s character, while everyone else is just going through the motions. Connecting with Brogan never really happens, and it doesn’t even make much sense as to why they try to kill her in the initial sweep to begin with. While Benioff may have done good work when he was showrunning Game of Thrones when he still had material from others to work from, the last season there and this only re-enforces that as a writer he most definitely has not yet hit one out of the park. Right now we’d settle for even hitting a single.
Smith may want to have a long sit-down conversation with his agent on the projects that he picks up, as he’s not currently doing himself any favors. His early career standouts are more than a decade old, and now it feels like each outing is simply being asked if it’ll be better or worse than After Earth. Even Bright is a better film than this, and I would suggest just watching that again before Gemini Man appears on Amazon Prime or Netflix, then give it a go.
Gemini Man is rated PG-13 and in theaters everywhere.
Rating: 1.5 Stars out of 5