‘Gemini Man’: Will Smith v Fresh Prince

Orval Howard

I am a huge lover of the cheesy action films from the 90s. The bad script, big named actors and explosive action makes for a great time to pop some popcorn and watch a film for pure enjoyment. That is exactly what ‘Gemini Man’ is – pure fun.

‘Gemini Man’ stars Will Smith as a hitman who has retired. However, he is thrust back into action when a younger hitman from the agency he used to work for comes after to kill him. When he discovers that this young hitman is a clone of himself, Smith must discover who is targeting him and why.

Does that sound familiar? 

That is the biggest flaw about this film. There are multiple films that have a very similar plot to this one. There is nothing new to see, other than the fact that Smith goes toe to toe with a younger version of himself.

The script has been in development hell since the 90s and finally caught up with the time for the technology. It does feel at times that there is too much exposition and dull. However, it also feels like an old school 90s action film and I loved that aspect of it. The script as a whole is very boring, though.

Where this film works for me is with the actors and action.

Smith is always great and charismatic. He delivers a good performance in this film that came to no surprise for me. The two supporting actors, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong, provide good characters for Smith to work with. They can feel at times to only be there for Smith to deliver exposition to. However, the actors themselves hold their own weight in the film.

As with a lot of action films, the villain is easily forgettable. It is a shame that this is the case because Clive Owen is a great actor. The character is just paper thin with nothing to give.

I was surprised that there was not more action in the film, but it did deliver when it was present. There are good action sequences, especially in the second act of the film. There is a motorcycle chase sequence that was so enjoyably silly. The younger version of Smith literally fights the older version of Smith with a motorcycle. As goofy as this sounds, I loved it! 

The action is always fast-paced and gets you invested in what is happening.

I think where most people will be split on this film are with two aspects: the experimental frame rate and the de-aging of Smith.

Where most films are shot with 24 frames per second, ‘Gemini Man’ was shot with 120 frames per second. This makes the film look smoother and takes out motion blurring that can appear in regular films.

I thought it was beautiful for the most part. However, when it came to the action sequences it felt off. When Smith and himself are fighting hand to hand, it feels very sped up and quick like a video game almost. As I enjoyed it, it definitely did not feel real because there was no impact when shots landed. It was so quick that when someone is thrown to the ground, it does not feel like it hurt.

This is a new and experimental way of filming. I give Ang Lee, the director, credit for trying something new. I personally thought it was cool, but I could see where others would disagree.

The de-aging was highly promoted for this film. Some ads even calling it a “game changer.” Is it though? We have seen de-aging in multiple Marvel films, and they did it better. 

Because it is easier to hide flaws in shadow when working with CGI, a lot of scenes with young Smith take place in dark areas. The de-aging is flawless during these scenes. It looked exactly as Smith did in his younger years.

However, there is a sequence taken place in broad daylight and the de-aging is laughable. The younger version of Smith looks goofy and very obviously de-aged. Other than this one sequence, it was relatively believable.

‘Gemini Man’ is one of those “love it or hate it” films. I thought it was a lot better than what the reviews said about it. The slick, stylistic action and big named actors make you forget about the dull, over used plot. If you are a fan of 90s action films like me, then I see no reason why you would not enjoy this film.