Will Smith is one of those bankable actors who blows hot and cold in the quality of his films. He made his name in several late-90’s hits, so he can now take a few riskier ventures without really taking a hit to his box office appeal. But, it is still safe to say that Smith’s latest choices haven’t been so much risky as confusing.
Contrary to most people, it wasn’t Smith’s involvement that attracted me to this film, but rather its director, Ang Lee, who has shown himself in the past to be a very skilful filmmaker, with films such as Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain, just to name a few.
The premise was also an intriguing one, even if it was a little close in some ways to 2012’s Looper, so perhaps I thought that with a dependable pair of hands on the reins and an interesting premise, that Gemini Man could be what restores my faith in Will Smith. How uncharacteristically optimistic of me.
Focusing on the story of master assassin, Henry Brogan, who wants to retire to a quiet life after an assassination almost goes awry. After accidentally stumbling across classified information, a government agency marks Brogan for dead, and sends a very familiar face after him.
You know, I’ve called mainstream action films many mean things before: brainless, excessive and pleased-with-itself are just a few examples, but I’m not sure a big-budget action film has ever left me so bored before.
When it wasn’t boring me with underdeveloped characters and rehashed plot points, it was making me very, very annoyed.
There are a few things in Hollywood that I would like to see end, and given a few hours and a bottle of whiskey, I’d gladly go into more detail, but the one prevalent here is the invincible protagonist. I get that you probably wouldn’t want to kill off your leading man quickly, but do they all have to be so bloody good at killing people and avoiding bullets? It’s too soon since I gave Rambo a good dressing down for this same thing, so I really shouldn’t be going over this again, but if your protagonist can soak up damage like Lemmy soaked up Jack Daniels, only to then kill their enemies with a single bullet, the audience is soon going to tire of it.
Their also going to tire of this de-ageing CGI gimmick eventually, which is stretched to its very limits in this film. A lot of the fight scenes look like a green screen taken to its next logical level, its very obvious that younger Will isn’t there, and I know that’s the best technology can do, but if that’s the best technology we have and it still looks bad, then is it maybe not worth doing?
Its not like it’s possible to warm to the CG-Smith, who really doesn’t seem comfortable with the whole motion-vampire malarkey, and you can tell because he’s as stiff as a viagra addict. His delivery is stunted and wooden and next to his actual self its like putting a crayon drawing of a bug-eyed hunchback next to Jennifer Lawrence, it does neither any favours.
While the screenwriters were dreaming up their little fantasy, they forgot some of the basics of storytelling, like characterisation, for instance. Characters from Brogan’s past are dropped in to the plot and we’re expected to care for them because they knew each other in the past, when we couldn’t see them, and when they’re inevitably dropped to be part of Brogan’s character arc, we’re expected to care, but we don’t, because we haven’t been given reason to.
The film looks nice I suppose, but you can’t really score points for that anymore. What with cameras and technology being as they are, you’d have to be really trying to make something look awful, but for what it’s worth, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to make it look good either. A good amount of effort is made to linger on shots of tattoos that characters share, but it leads absolutely bloody nowhere, so we’re left wondering why they bothered.
In conclusion then, Gemini Man is a big old mess of a film, which subscribes to the general rule of giving away all its interesting parts in the trailers. It’s wastes the talent of Ang Lee, it wastes the charisma of Will Smith, and most importantly, it wastes the time of anyone unfortunate enough to watch it.