HOLLYWOOD—Sometimes even the advancement of technology cannot save a bad movie. Rarely have I given passes to such things because in my opinion technology or visual effects are supposed to be a heightened effect of a story that is already being told. Look at it like a bonus. However, the genius touch of double Academy Award winner for Best Director, Ang Lee and star power like Will Smith cannot save the sci-fi, action thriller “Gemini Man.”
It should not take much knowledge to realize that this movie like the zodiac sign is about twins, clones to be exact. Smith takes on double duty, but not in the essence of portraying two unique characters or multiple characters ala Eddie Murphy in “The Nutty Professor.” Smith’s first role has him portraying Henry Brogan; a government assassin whose skill set has been slowly degenerating with age. He may have been one of the best at one point in his career, but he’s not the same man anymore. On the flip side, Smith also portrays Junior, a younger version of himself that was cloned thanks to a top-secret government program known as GEMINI. Yes, the ability for this flick to constantly reference the name Gemini is uncanny.
The problem I had with the technology in “Gemini Man” is that it looks so fake it’s hard to take seriously. Yes, it’s impressive to see Lee helm such technical advancements behind the camera with motion capture and computer generated imagery, but I was more impressed with his work on “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Life of Pi.” Lee does the best he can with the camera and it is impressive. If you’re looking for action you get it, looking for incredible fight sequences you get it. How about explosions? This movie has that too.
However, even Smith, who I’ve seen do much better work, cannot save this dreadful narrative. His clone is so computerized that his appearance on the screen is almost laughable at times. I don’t know if that was intended or not, but I’d like to believe that is not the case. The plot is just bland and has no backbone to make the spectator care. That may also be the direct result of a lackluster performance of a villain by Clive Owen as Henry and Junior’s mentor.
I cannot fathom why so many writers fail to realize the villain is just as important as the hero. Having an equal adversary or one who is an even formidable foe to our protagonist just drives the narrative more and brings the viewer into the movie that much more. Owen’s portrayal of Clay reminds me of so many of those quasi boring villains from the countless superhero flicks. He thinks of himself as being far superior to the rest of mankind, while having the threat level of an ant. Is this the best villain the writers could come up with?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars alongside Smith as Dani Zakawweski, a DIA agent who helps Henry in his mission to prove his innocence after being framed for a crime he didn’t commit. She is essentially a sidekick and nothing else. If you truly want me to compare “Gemini Man” to any another movie, think Jason Bourne movies without the intrigue, the suspense and overall excitement that Matt Damon’s hero, Jason Bourne brought the screen every time he appeared. This movie will make you wish you spend double the amount of time to avoid it.