At one point in the late 90s, Will Smith was one of the biggest actors on the planet. The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air went on one of the greatest four-film streaks of all time, starring in Bad Boys (1995), Independence Day (1996), Men In Black (1997) and Enemy of the State (1998). On top of that, he also released his debut chart-topping solo album ‘Big Willie Style’, spawning the hits “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “Miami”. Then he made Wild Wild West (1999).
That film marked the end of Smith’s golden era and sent the actor on a downward spiral. His output over the past two decades has been average at best. Sure, Ali (2001) and The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006) might be regarded as successes by some, but when you throw in the likes of Suicide Squad (2016), Bright (2017) and Hancock (2008), you realise just how many poor choices Smith has made over the journey.
His latest film, Gemini Man, is being promoted as the film to put Smith back on the map. An action-packed thriller about a retired assassin hunted by a younger clone of himself, Gemini Man sounds promising on paper but ends up a weak and uninspired mess when transported to the big screen.
Having spent over 20 years in development hell, the film finally got backing when acclaimed director Ang Lee joined, but not even he can save this pile of trash. Reading through the credits you’ll come across David Benioff as one of the three screenwriters used to develop the film. Knowing how his decision impacted the final season of Game Of Thrones tells you all you need to know about the script for Gemini Man.
As the short synopsis above details, Smith comes face to face with his younger self and embarks on a mission to reveal the truth to his clone and save him from the same life he’s had. While Lee handles the action well, the character interactions seem forced and Smith never feels believable.
Smith’s weary hitman Henry Brogan is a stock-standard character without much depth who’s joined on his adventures by fellow agent Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is criminally underused) and friend, Baron (Benedict Wong). Clive Owen shows up as the evil mastermind Clay Verris and scowls his way through the film while Ilia Volok steals the one scene he’s in as a Russian agent who helps Brogan track down his younger self.
The film is a torrid mess with insipid dialogue that’s only saved by the high-octane action scenes. Filmed in 4K 3D+, a new technology that enables a frame rate of 120 frames per second, the action scenes are admittedly fantastic and really make you feel like you’re part of the film. The bad news is as soon as they’re over the film drops away and quickly becomes rather dull.
Despite some neat action, a solid cast and an Academy Award-winning director, Gemini Man offers nothing new and is another disappointing Will Smith film that makes me wish Bad Boys for Life (2020) was never given the green light.
Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Sean Connery were all attached to star at some stage since the film was first conceived in 1997.
Deserted Island Movie Collection: Every Kurt Russell film.
Best Movie Snack: Popcorn.