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Review: Gemini Man -“A failed experiment”

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Written by Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Gemini Man stars Will Smith (Men in Black), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Clive Owen (Children of Men) and Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange).

Super assassin Henry Brogan (Smith) has had enough of killing and decides to retire from the powerful black-ops government agency he works for. But, as we all know, when you decide to stop assassinating people for a powerful black-ops government agency they will send dudes to kill you.

In this case, the dudes happen to be a dude – a twenty-five-year-old clone of Brogan – who is dispatched by untrustworthy spook Clay Verris (Owen) to kill Brogan and his best friend Baron (Wong), as well as Danny (Winstead): a spy who gets dragged into being on the hit list and into being a weird creepy-awkward not-quite love interest for Brogan and Brogan Jnr.

The twenty-five-year gap makes this Bad Boys 3 Will Smith versus Bad Boys 1 Will Smith, but as cool as this concept is (cool enough to have been knocking around Hollywood for twenty years waiting for the technology to catch up), Gemini Man never delivers – it only disappoints.

Shot in an ultra-high framerate a la the first Hobbit, Gemini Man’s 3D does look crazy smooth but it also, like the first Hobbit, looks horribly cheap, like a daytime soap with lots of motorbikes and parkour. This visual technology was knocked on the head once already for a reason, and that wasn’t that we weren’t ready for it – it was that it looks dreadful.

This is Gemini Man’s biggest technical hindrance, but it has lots more too. Shots go on way longer than they should and always stay wide with no inserts or close-ups on actions as if there was no second unit available. The effects look incomplete with the constant gunfire left as the blanks shot on the day and the grenade blasts going off in cheap fireworks showers of sparks.

The sound is off too, often sounding like everything is happening in a bell jar and like a couple of tracks of audio are missing from the mix. I honestly left Gemini Man worried that they had accidentally shown an unfinished rough cut.

The script is dire as well and although not feeling unfinished it definitely feels like a very early draft that still needs another fewer passes before being ready. Dialogue is painful and leggy, some character actions are bonkers, like Brogan finishing a clandestine meeting and looking up in the sky and seeing a spy satellite that is, you know, in space.

He and his clone also fight face-to-face for about fifteen minutes seeing each other’s faces a lot but then act utterly mystified that they may be connected in some way before finally recognising their resemblance the next time they fight in the dark.

Gemini Man is a failed experiment that everyone was too nice to pull the plug on after the first day and plays like the workprint of a rehearsal of a first draft. How this has happened, been deemed fit for release or has come out of Ang Lee(!) is a horrible mystery. But Mary Elizabeth Winstead does knock a guy’s teeth out which was good.

Gemini Man is released in the UK on the 10th of October.

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