We can’t overestimate just how much potential this movie actually had.
It feels like it has been a long time since we got a properly great “high concept” action movie.
Baddies take over a skyscraper to rob the big vault inside.
The bus will blow up if it slows down too much.
A cop swaps faces with a terrorist in order to infiltrate his gang and disarm a bomb.
Action movies have spent so much time trying to be taken super seriously (likely thanks to the Bourne movies), that all sense of fun has been strangled out in favour of grittiness.
So when you hear the pitch from Gemini Man – a world-class assassin finds himself being hunted by his own younger clone – you have to ask, how could this NOT be fun?
Well, the answer is simple: they take it all waaaaayyyyy too seriously.
As both older and CGI-created younger versions of the same top-tier killer, Will Smith actually spends most of the movie either on the verge of tears, or openly crying. We didn’t come here for an existential crisis about our own being, guys. We came here for stuff to explode and for Big Will to charm a hole straight through the screen.
It is clear that director Ang Lee (yes, the Brokeback Mountain guy) is more obsessed with the technical aspects of the project – it is filmed in brain-breakingly realistic 60 frames per second and is also one of the few major new releases to sell itself as a 3D release – and the idea of making us believe that Old Will and Young Will are right there on screen together.
Sometimes it works, such as in kinetic action sequence in Colombia that combines parkour with a motorbike chase, but most times it doesn’t, like every scene when they slow down long enough to talk about their feelings.
The screenplay, which most recently had a rewrite by David Benioff (yes, the Game Of Thrones guy) should’ve tried a lot harder to lean into the obvious OTT nature of the concept, but outside Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s genuinely fun performance and a handful of decently put together set-pieces, its mostly just… kinda boring.
Which is probably the worst sin a film like this can commit. Be great. Be terrible. But how can a movie about cloned assassins be boring?
The final nail in the dual coffins arrives when, after jet-setting around the world in search of most of the plot, we wind up back in Georgia, as Older Will heads towards the big bad guy’s (Clive Owen) base of operations, a huge industrial compound, the perfect setting for a huge, bombastic blockbuster finale.
Instead, as he and Winstead are about to arrive, they got shot at, take refuge in an abandoned small-town store, and that is where the entire final action scene takes place.
That is the entire movie in a nutshell: huge potential, massively squandered by bizarre creative decisions.
Gemini Man arrives in Irish cinemas on Thursday 10 October.
Clip via Paramount Pictures