By Jossalyn Holbert
Let’s be completely, one hundred percent clear about one thing. The only part of Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” that really stood out to me is the incomparable Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She is cute, capable, and compelling, and subsequently one of my current celebrity crushes (can you tell?). The rest of the film, however, left little to be desired, and here’s why:
We will start with that unfortunate high frame rate that has already captivated Ang Lee once in his directorial journey (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”). The version of “Gemini Man” that I saw was sixty frames per second, rather than the typical twenty-four, so images flew by at over half the speed than most are used to. Believe me, it showed.
The motion smoothing that comes with a high frame rate was for my purposes too smooth, limiting lighting to either extremely bright or too dark and reducing the impact of action scenes. These moments (the motorcycle fight in particular) were still great to watch but did not pack as much of a punch because they lacked a certain fear factor that comes with the choppier frames.
Let us talk for a moment about what went well. Besides the gorgeous and talented Winstead, we get decent performances from Will Smith, Benedict Wong, and Clive Owen. Plus, we see the occasional fun camera angle, especially the shot of husband and wife dropped into the ocean from above. Ultimately, the action here is stellar but mostly spoiled in the trailer. Sad.
“The only part of Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” that really stood out to me is the incomparable Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She is cute, capable, and compelling, and subsequently one of my current celebrity crushes (can you tell?).”
The concept itself of a DIA agent cloning an extremely skilled hitman, editing out his human nature to create the perfect assassin is actually quite cool, and I would have loved to have seen that concept reach its full potential. Thanks to gimmicky de-aging technology though, this movie falls a little short of that goal.
I could not help but feel like Will Smith was reprising two roles here, the older version reprising Deadshot from “Suicide Squad” and the younger looking a whole lot like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This combination turned out to be a little more comical than I am sure Lee intended.
Also, Henry Brogan (Smith) faces childhood trauma from his father teaching him how to swim, and this results in a fear of drowning, which of course Junior (also Smith) does not have. I like the concept of Clay Varris (Clive Owen), DIA agent who took Brogan’s DNA to create an army of super soldier clones, trying to create a new version of Brogan with a blank slate. Junior is meant to have all of Brogans’ skill and none of his pain. But, it turns out that both Brogan and Junior dealt with abusive fathers (Varris being Junior’s adoptive father), and so this intention quickly flies out the window.
Lee fails to tie up a few loose ends here, with plot points like Brogan’s fear of drowning hitting an eventual dead end. Overall, I’d give this movie a three out of five
Mary. Elizabeth. Winstead. How can we not talk about this brown-eyed, brown-haired badass? She outacts the part she was given, playing the role of a hero when she is written like a love interest. Can we expect anything less from the notorious M.E.W., though? She steals the show in any movie she is in, if you ask me, and I am hopeful for the roles that Winstead gets to tackle in the future (“Birds of Prey”, anyone?).