by Philip Price
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Clive Owen
Runtime: 1 hour & 57 minutes
There are few things more disappointing than a movie that wastes the charisma of Will Smith. And yet, somehow, Ang Lee's “Gemini Man” manages to not only do this but do so as the film literally doubles the amount of Smith while equally subduing the level of charm the movie star typically brings.
“Gemini Man” is a science project of a movie in which Lee once again tries to make a case for the practice of utilizing higher frame rates as opposed to the traditional 24 frames per second, which is pretty much how all movies have been shot since moving pictures and sound collided. As with his previous feature, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” the filmmaker shot “Gemini Man” at 120 frames per second and though only a handful of theaters in North America will be able to show the film in this intended format Lee continues to insist this is the way of the future of cinema or more appropriately - the next step in salvaging the theater-going experience. To this point, Lee's intentions are obviously admirable as he is experimenting in these techniques to try and enhance the immersiveness of the theatrical experience and it might even be further to this point that Lee has tried to implement such techniques through as generic a genre thriller as “Gemini Man,” but despite the technology (and this is something Lee should have learned on ‘Billy Lynn’) the level at which an audience is immersed in a film and the experience of movie-going as a whole is still rooted in the basics of story and character.
That's not to say the core concept of “Gemini Man” doesn't have potential-films cut from the same cloth such as “Looper,” “Minority Report” or even “The Terminator” to a certain extent have all succeeded in different ways while more or less using the same tools-but here, the premise seems to simply serve as an excuse to try these new advancements in the field of filmmaking; essentially meaning “Gemini Man” a crapshoot of a movie that will help the film industry figure out what works and what doesn't. Furthermore, in the age of properties and brands being bigger than old school movie stars Will Smith is still arguably one of the biggest celebrities if not movie stars on the planet as well as being one of the most charming and likable personalities to boot, but in “Gemini Man” all of that presence and personality is squandered in a movie uninterested in who Smith's character is.
“Gemini Man” ultimately feels less like a step forward in any aspect of its production and more like a regression in the ability of Lee to tell a compelling story with or without all the bells and whistles.