Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is the best assassin in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s roster. He is the type of elite sniper who can hit a target on a moving train from a ridiculous distance and not even break a sweat. After accumulating a spectacular 72 kills, and haunted by trauma from the past, Brogan decides it is time to retire.
Hoping to live a simple life, Brogan quickly discovers that the government has no intention of letting him quietly ride off into the sunset. Shortly after meeting boat rental manager Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an undercover agent who was assigned to secretly monitor him, Brogan learns from an old friend that his last job was not what it appeared to be. Instead of removing a terrorist, he killed an innocent man. A target that Clay Verris (Clive Owen), the head of a black opts unit known as GEMINI, wanted eliminated for personal reasons.
Uncovering this information instantly makes Brogan and Zakarweski loose ends that Varris must get rid of. As the pair flees the country with the assistance of Brogan’s former colleague Baron (Benedict Wong), Verris sends his brightest pupil Junior (Will Smith), a clone of Brogan that was made without the aging sniper’s knowledge, to track them down. This sets in motion a complicated cat and mouse chase as Brogan struggles to out smart a man who not only knows his moves, but also will not stop until he is dead.
Much of the discourse surrounding Gemini Man has been about the technology it utilizes. Not only did director Ang Lee decide to film at 120 frames per second, he also chose to digitally construct the younger version of Will Smith. While there are moments when the movements of the CGI Smith come across as rubbery, the film is a treat to look at. Lee pulls off some truly jaw-dropping action sequences, including a great fight scene in a tunnel that is lit only by a flashlight at the end of a gun. As a straight action film, Gemini Man is solid. It delivers just the right amount of thrills and humour one hopes for in a Will Smith action flick.
Unfortunately, Lee’s uneven plot is where the film stumbles. Gemini Man never seems quite sure how to handle Junior. By not going the T2 relentless killing machine route, the initially brisk pacing gets bogged down by emotional beats that fail to resonate. Since Brogan is morally conflicted about killing his clone, it also takes away a bit of the film’s tension and waters down the nature versus nurture commentary.
Thankfully the performances by the ensemble help the film to rise above its rocky moments. While Smith is particularly good in the duel role, it is Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is the true scene-stealer. As the badass Zakarweski, Winstead makes a solid case for her inclusion in more action films in the future.
Action fans will want to give the Blu-ray, which arrives today courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment, a spin as it offers several insightful features about how the film pulled off its thrilling stunts. In “Setting the Action” Lee and crew dive into the complexities of constructing the “Bike Fu” motorcycle chase scene. Those interested in the visual effects side of things will find much to chew on with “The Future is Now” and “The Vision of Ang Lee.” Each one captures the sheer level of detail, including using the film Bad Boys as a reference point for the clone, needed to bring the film to life.
While not the cohesive technical marvel that Lee was aiming for, there is still plenty of fun to be had with Gemini Man. Those looking for an entertaining action film to watch on a lazy weekend afternoon should give this Blu-ray a spin.
Bonus Features: Alternate Opening, Deleted Scenes, The Genesis of Gemini Man, Facing Your Younger Self, The Future Is Now, Setting the Action, Next Level Detail, The Vision of Ang Lee