The script isn’t that great (David Benihoff really needs to hit a screenwriting class), the premise is fairly generic, and the star hasn’t had a big hit in years. However, this is a film that is pretty weird when you think about it, has some outstanding action setpieces, the cast are all in, and the format is pretty damn exciting.
From a script that has been bouncing round Tinseltown since 1997, this is a project that started off with Tony Scott, then Curtis Hanson, and then Joe Carnahan (check out his sizzle reel for Bruckheimer/Disney, Clint vs Clint!). All before it came to Ang Lee in 2017.
Some of the actors that have been a part of this project reads like a list of popular Actors on IMDB:
- Harrison Ford
- Chris O’Donnell (remember him?)
- Mel Gibson
- Jon Voight (really?!?!?!)
- Nicolas Cage
- Brad Pitt
- Tom Cruise
- Clint Eastwood
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Sylvester Stallone
- Sean Connery
And now Will Smith has it made. As I have said before, Will hasn’t had a ‘hit’ in quite a few years (was it I, ROBOT?!? I AM LEGEND?!?). And Ang Lee isn’t what people think of when they think ‘Action Director’. He isn’t the Scott/Carnahan/Bay type. This is the guy that when he got given a Marvel movie, he gave us Daddy-Issues: The Movie with 2003’s HULK (a film I will defend).
BUT. And I put that in capital letters for a reason.
This film is weird. In a good way. Ang Lee can shoot action, and Will Smith still has that screen presence from the days of old. When I say weird, I mean that this film has Will Smith fighting his clone. This clone looks like he came straight out of FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR. It’s breathtaking.
However, I think that the big accomplishment of GEMINI MAN is the 3D 120fps HFR.
I had my misgivings of the HFR format. When I saw THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, the world of Middle Earth seemed so odd. I couldn’t place it. This was 7(?) years ago. A year later Ang Lee released LIFE OF PI, a 3D masterpiece. There were whole long stretches of beauty that couldn’t be matched in any other format. This was the first ‘great’ 3D film (sorry AVATAR and HUGO). And I honestly don’t think I have seen a film in either format since.
What Ang Lee does with the format is brilliantly showcased in 3 set-pieces. The only one I want to give away is the bike chase, as this was featured prominently in the trailers. This is propulsive filmmaking that would make Michael Bay take note; I honestly have never felt ‘speed’ like this whilst watching a film in the cinema, and that includes RUSH and every FAST AND FURIOUS film. This set piece, in this format, is the best action sequence since last years Helicopter fight in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT. It is THAT good. And the truly exciting thing is, is that James friggin’ Cameron is using this format for his AVATAR sequels. I cannot wait.
If GEMINI MAN has a legacy, it’s that it is the precursor to better uses of the format and technology. But for now, GEMINI MAN is well worth seeing for a killer Will Smith performance, a mind-blowing young Fresh Prince on screen (did I mention that this is a wholly CGI creation? #mindblown), a charming Benedict Wong, a hammy-villian played by Clive Owen (in a good way), and a kick-ass Mary Elizabeth Winstead (go Ramona!!).
I hope people take this as a recommendation, and not get scared away by its ‘Ang Lee’s BLACKHAT’ tag. Which is a compliment. Because BLACKHAT is awesome.
And GEMINI MAN is pretty damn good.