From visionary director, Ang Lee comes the newest technological experiment, Gemini Man. Gemini Man follows an over the hill hitman played by Will Smith as Henry Brogan as he tries to retire from the business. Henry soon finds out some information that he shouldn’t know, now the government that he served for 25 years is hunting him down. Being that Henry Brogan is the best at what he does, the government sends a new kind of assassin to kill him, a clone of himself. Gemini Man was highly anticipated for me these past few weeks. I’m a big fan of Ang Lee and the innovation that usually comes with his work, so naturally, I’m usually on board for anything he does. Can Gemini Man succeed in creating a new experience with the new 120 frame rate style and still create an exciting story?
As 99% of films are shot in 24 frames per second (meaning 24 still images put together in one second to make a continuous shot), there have been a few films that venture into filming in higher frame rates. Most notably The Hobbit films were shot in 60 frames per second. Gemini Man is shot in an astounding 120 frames per second. The high frame gives films and other mediums like video games a higher sense of realism as the high frames remove motion blur and provides more detail to the viewer in terms of movement and fluidity. In video games a higher frame rate can bring the player into the game more, creating a sense of actually being in this situation, or even with sports, being shot sometimes in 30 frames per second can provide a sense of being at the game. However, in the case of films, this technique has proven to be more distracting than engrossing. The Hobbit films in comparison to The Lord of the Rings feels fake and heavily altered in post with CGI effects. This sense of realism in films comes off as home movie-ish and not cinematic. Gemini Man does it’s best to balance a surreal and visceral feeling while trying not to come across as an odd cheaply made experience and leaving the viewer feeling something is off about the presentation. For me, the high frame rate started to blend in. I found the action scenes that were shot in dark lighting to be the most effective use. Those scenes felt real and visceral. But for the most part, the frame rate is distracting. The friend I saw Gemini Man with hated this. It distracted him the entire time and gave him a headache. So I can assume for most, this will not be a good experience. Thankfully there are regular 24 frames per second screenings you can go to, although the rest of Gemini Man is tough to get through.
I will say the actors do their best with the material they were given. Will Smith playing dual roles plays both fine. He’s charming and charismatic like you would expect, but nothing special. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is again fine however, her character is useless. Overall her effect on the story is minimal and doesn’t change much. And that’s where we get to the worst part of Gemini Man, the script. This is maybe the worst script this year for a high budgeted movie. The dialogue is laughably bad. My friend and I had a hard containing our laughter a few times in this film. The story of Gemini Man is way too complicated and yet dumb. Characters have to go all over the place to find information and have conversations that aren’t necessary. Gemini Man needed to be way more contained of a story than what was presented. The exposition is horrendous. Characters repeat lines of dialogue over and over, drilling into the audience’s mind information we already knew. The film treats it’s audience like their stupid and won’t be able to follow the fairly simple concept of the movie. Gemini Man feels like a first draft or a rough edit of a script.
To give the film some credit, Ang Lee does know how to helm a good action scene. The action is shot very close, but with the high frame, for me at least, it worked adding an extra edge to the action. For the most part, the CG is amazing. Younger Will Smith looks great and in particular, the darker scenes look near perfect. Although there is one horribly done shot of young Will Smith in broad daylight close to the end of the movie that looks like a video game cutscene. Other than that one scene there, the CG work is done with excellence. The 3D is also very effective. I usually hate 3D, but in Gemini Man, it added a lot of detail to the world.
Gemini Man is not a good movie. It’s one where I can see a lot of people saying that at least they enjoyed it, but as time will come I feel more and more people will come to realize how terribly written this movie is. Gemini Man is a big disappointment for me. Ang Lee is a brilliant visionary director, who I know can do better work than this. I think the script for Gemini Man held this movie back from hitting any kind of potential it had. If your blueprints aren’t up to standards, you can’t expect the rest of the product to be either.