“Gemini Man” is the perfect example of an effects-driven film.
Using digital technology to create a young Will Smith to go up against the actual Will Smith, Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee created an impressive visual accomplishment in “Gemini Man.”
That’s about the only thing working in a film with a plot that feels like it was reheated from a 1980s script, wasting the talents of everyone involved.
Smith plays Henry Brogan, an under the radar assassin who is about ready to retire after facing the fact that he is not as sharp and effective as he once was.
Just as Henry is about to head into retirement, he gets word that his last job wasn’t exactly what he thought it was. As Henry tries to find out who was really behind his last hit, he discovers he is in fact the target of black ops commander Clay Verris (Clive Owen) – with Verris using a clone of Henry (the digitally created Smith) to take out Henry.
With the help of a government agent named Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Henry sets out to stop his clone – and Verris.
Lee has such a quality resume – “The Life of Pi,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain” are among his films – one would expect “Gemini Man” to at least look the part of a blockbuster.
Lee’s direction does try to inject life into the film, as the characters hop around the globe from one set action piece to another. However, these action sequences lack zip, perhaps because the addition of a digitally enhanced character makes it hard to stage. Give Lee credit for trying to make them work, especially a chase through the streets between the two Smiths, but there are too many problems throughout “Gemini Man” to keep the audience invested.
The script is riddled with spy thriller cliches, coming off like a second-rate “Bourne” film or a second-rate attempt at a “Mission: Impossible”-type tent pole.
The stale script isn’t helped by its cast. Smith seems bored the entire way, delivering his lines in a monotone hush that makes it seem like Henry is the clone devoid of emotion.
Winstead, a usually reliable actress, is wasted in a role that gives her practically nothing to do, while Owens tries to chew up the scenery as the heavy but fails miserably.
It’s a shame that it never comes together because the visual effects (save for one misstep late) are actually quite good. If only “Gemini Man” had some substance to go with all of that style.