Barrett Brief Movie Review- The Rising Gemini Man

Written by on 10/11/2019

The Rising Gemini Man

Summary: In the Gemini Man: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

The primary trait that I look for when I review a movie is does it accomplish what it sets out to be. Given that it the 2019 film Gemini Man, starring Will Smith, has 4 different genres that it tries to fit into, that becomes a problem. Having multiple genres is not by itself an issue. With a good story a film can be both a Thriller while satisfying elements of horror or crime. Be that as it may, despite the fact it is an enjoyable movie, the plot wants to be more grandiose than the film actually turns out to be. I am not going to list of the traits of genres, but for your reference here is Action, Drama, Sci-Fi & Thriller

Will Smith(s) 

Will Smith is the last of a dying breed. He is one of the few names that you can put about the title. His star power alone is amazing in this day and age where intellectual property is counted on more to put butts in the seats. He continues to prove his worth in Gemini Man, where if you put anyone else in the role it goes from big budget Hollywood to late night B movie. Yes, it is that bland of a script. Of course to accurately evaluate Smith performance, we have to look at both of them. The biggest draw of Gemini Man is that we have 2 Will Smith’s, and their performances are uneven at best. 

The older (or real) Smith is a “over-the-hill” version, which I found very quite amusing. There was no point during the film where he looked “over-the-hill” when he was in action. He was in fact never truly out matched by his 25 yr old self. As for Smith’s performance, I was not 100% sold on his portray of the world’s baddest hitman. Sometimes he just came off to Will Smithy. Meaning he was warm, affable and not a guy who looked like he was carrying “ghosts” of the past. 

Now the younger (de-aged) Smith was the real star of this film. Not only was the effect nearly flawless for 90% of the film (more on that later), Smith convincingly channels vulnerability and an innocence that few others could. It struck me during some one scene why he was perfect for the role, despite my issues with his older portrayal. Will Smith is one of the few who still has still retained some of his childlike innocence. I was completely sold on his younger self.

Due to that reason I give his older portrayal a pass, because he put all of his energy into his younger self, and it pays off.  

 The effect used to de-age Smith is flawless for most of the film. However, and I will not spoil it, there is one part of the film where it suffers from the Uncanny valley pretty significantly, which was quite jarring. Maybe this was due to re-shoots and the studio didn’t have enough time, but it comes are a crucial point and almost wipes out the work of 90% of the film.

The Rest of the Cast 

In the meantime, the rest of the cast does its job well, which is to bounce off Smith and keep the story moving. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is by far the best. In reality, it may be a result of have the second most amount of screen time. Nevertheless she had solid chemistry with Smith and did her best with the what the script called for. Not her best role (that honor goes to 10 Cloverfield Lane) but nothing to be ashamed of either. Benedict Wong is solid and provides some of the funnier moments in the film.  Clive Owen really gives a better performance than what his character actually deserved. In the light of the way his role was written, it could have easily fell off into a caricature of what a bad guy is. In spite of his best efforts, his dialogue holds him back most of the time. 

Plot & Pacing 

 Where the film really shows its flaws is in the structure. Notably, which when I went over my notes I saw that I wrote “pacing” multiple times. Especially in the first third of the film, which could have benefited from another revision to tighten it up. You could have cut 10 minutes from this part of the film and it would not have made a difference. Consequently, by the time we get to the action set pieces, which were well done (keep your eye out for an OUTSTANDING long shot) I was beginning to lose interest. All the action has consequence to it, so I was never bored during those moments.

The Plot is also not very strong. Our protagonist (Smith) is not the driving force of the story. Consequently he just seems to be reacting most of the time, which once again shows that the film could have used one more run through. Also this film jumps to multiple locations, which was not necessary for a plot that seemed very self contained. This whole film could have taken place in one location, and I believe it would have made for a stronger foundation. Once we start jumping countries, things tend to get loose and that is rarely good for a plot structure. 

The movie wants to claim Sci-Fi elements, but it just doesn’t connect. When I think of Sci-Fi, I think of Star Trek, Terminator and other films where technology seems futuristic. With Dolly the sheep (who gets a well-deserved shout out) and other advancements in cloning seemingly being announced daily, it doesn’t fit for me. This film does not satisfy any Thriller criteria at all. 

Overall:

Will Smith continues to prove he is one of the few worthy of the title “movie star”. The rest of this film, however has beats and elements more fit for a late night B movie. 

Score: 3 1/2 out of 5 Briefcases 

 

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