Our film introduces us to a man named Henry (Will Smith) who is a professional hitman. Henry is completing one final job, and then he is officially retiring from working for the government. When Henry tries to settle down and relax, an unknown man tries to kill him. Soon Henry discovers the mystery hitman looks like him. He looks exactly like him, only younger. The government have created a clone of Henry, who is a much more advanced version of the retired hitman.
As a plot, Gemini Man is basic. We gain an understanding of Henry’s intentions and that he just wants to take a step back. For me, the performance in Gemini Man was rather bland. Will Smith is generally positive, but there are moments where the actor seems uninterested- it just shows. The same could be said for the side actors who assist our lead along the way. Perhaps this could also be due to the film’s script which at times keeps spoon-feeding information to its audiences. At other times the data and plot get a little overboard and complex. I was disappointed in the film’s villain (played by Clive Owen). Clive Owen’s character is merely flat, dull and not memorable as a bad guy. His key motives, while they are mentioned in the film, feel poor.
But besides the characters and plot, the biggest discussion is the film’s frame rate and CGI work.
For those who are not aware, Gemini Man was a unique film for the year 2019 due to its style and visual quality. Director Ang Lee (best known for films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000) has purposely filmed Gemini Man with a higher refresh rate compared to the standard films that are shown in cinemas today (typically 24 frames per second).
This means viewers will notice a massive difference in both the quality of the picture, as well as a faster and smoother motion when the camera is panning or showing action sequences. This was something very different for its time in cinema, and naturally, some people will find this style enjoyable while others will find it distracting. I enjoyed the investment and the creativity from the director to make the film in such away. If you own a 4K TV and 4K Blu-ray player, I highly recommend you check this film out. The image quality alone makes this film demo worthy.
Some CGI effects here; however, are a complete hit and miss. The film is CGI heavy, particularly whenever we see a young Will Smith in the movie. There are moments where the CGI is flawless, and then other times, it’s awful to look at. For me, this was more distracting and took me out of the film more than the fancy refresh rate and filming style. Facial features such as eyes or teeth come across, looking more like a video game character. Another example of disappointing CGI is when the older Will Smith is riding a motorbike, and you can see in one shot that it’s not Will Smith. With so much work done with CGI for this film, I’m surprised how much was ignored or missed.
Overall, Gemini Man is a mixed bag for me. It’s an essential action film filled with many dull moments due to both the script and the performances from the leading cast. The film introduces the world to a next-level style of cinema by filming at a higher refresh rate and having heavy use of CGI. The refresh rate alone makes the film visually remarkable to be sure, but overall this should have been a much bigger blockbuster for 2019. This film’s biggest strength is found in the visuals, not so much in the story.