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Gemini Man review: Bleeding-edge technology can’t save bad script

By Mike Finnerty Oct 18, 2019

Gemini Man feels like a movie out of time.

Legendary action producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s name is trumpeted in the marketing campaign for this movie, telling audiences to expect a throwback action flick in the vein of The Rock or Top Gun.

Two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee is making a purely action film again, in a return to his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hulk glory days, with Michael Mann’s muse in the digital era Dion Beebe acting as cinematographer.

The inclusion of Dion Beebe behind the scenes is of particular note, as he oversaw Michael Mann’s leap into the digital era with his work on Collateral and Miami Vice, right as digital cinematography was beginning to take off.

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Fiend For Mojitos: Miami Vice was the movie to kick start the digital cinematography revolution

Add Will Smith into the mix, pitting 2019 Smith against a CGI-generated 1996 era Will Smith, and you have all the recipes for a cracking film.

Unfortunately, the script failed to turn up along the way.

If someone can’t tell you the name of a character less than 24 hours after seeing the movie, the script has totally failed.

There’s one brilliantly demented line where Will Smith ask’s why can’t they clone more doctors or scientists or Nelson Mandela instead of him, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character replies “Nelson Mandela couldn’t hit a target on top of a moving train from 2 kilometers away.”

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That, along with maybe three or four other lines in the movie shows that at least someone in production knew how silly this movie should be, and not the slog it is.

At it’s most engaging, Gemini Man is like a bad PS2 game, or a Metal Gear Solid game that was made by someone who’s never played one, but knows the basic tropes of Hideo Kojima’s writing.

Gemini Man was first pitched back in the late 1990s, so it’s baffling to think in that 20 years no one bothered to check if the script was in anyway interesting or engaging.

Gemini Man is a fantastic high-concept idea; A legendary soldier faces off against a younger, identical version of himself.

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This is computer-generated.

This is the hookline of the trailer, but it’s not fully revealed in the film until the halfway point.

In a bizarre twist, the most interesting parts of this action movie isn’t the action itself, it’s the clinical human behaviour at the core at the movie, which is atypical of Ang Lee’s films.

Hulk is a superhero movie in all but name, it’s really just a Freudian analysis of father-son relationships.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a cool kung-fu movie that deals with the role of women in society.

The most effective scene in this film isn’t a high-octane action sequence, it’s a simple scene between two characters discussing the very nature of human relationships, and what it means to be human.

The scene in question involves a scene between Clive Owen and a CGI recreation of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air era Will Smith, and the special effects truly are a sight to behold.

Technical marvel: CGI Will Smith

If nothing else comes out of this film, recreating deceased actors is now incredibly close to becoming mainstream, and will be a trend to watch in the next ten years of cinema.

Don’t be surprised if you see a movie with a recreated Marilyn Monroe or Gary Cooper on Netflix by 2029.

You can see the tears and snot coming out of CGI Will Smith’s eyes and nose, and it’s a true technical feat that only a director like Lee, known for his love of embracing new technology to tell a human story, can pull off.

And you can believe that this scene was added at Ang Lee’s insistence, because it’s the only sign that he made this movie.

I caught the High Frame-Rate showing of this in 3D, for science.

For the uninitiated, most films are shot in 24 frames per second.

In High-Frame Rate, it’s shot in 60 frames per second.

Everything on screen moves two and a half times quicker than most films are shot, and it might be the future of cinema.

In a select few cinemas worldwide, this film is being shown in 120 frames per second, in 4K resolution.

In essence, I was only getting 50% of what Ang Lee would deem the optimal viewing experience.

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Mad genius: Ang Lee at work

Lee pulled the same trick in 2016 with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but only a handful of cinemas in the world could show the film in the way it was meant to be seen, so if you’re watching the film on streaming or on a standard blu-ray disc, you’re just left with a medicore movie that had some bleeding edge technology behind it.

3 years later, and the technology is starting to catch up to Lee’s imagination, and even Irish audiences can begin to sample Lee’s work in their local cinema.

Seeing this film HFR was the only recommendation I’d have for this film, but by the time you’re reading this it’s most likely gone from Irish cinemas.

It added an unprecedented level of clarity and depth to the film in it’s action sequences, and may well become the standard of cinema in the next 10 years.

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 2016: Dodgy movie, incredibly impressive technology

The same can’t be said for it’s dialogue sequences, because suddenly this very expensive 3D action movie ends up looking like an episode of Fair City, as the characters move too naturally in a way that’s disconcerting.

If you’re reading this article in the months after the film comes out and it’s on Netflix or some streaming service, don’t bother, you’re not missing much apart from CGI Will Smith.

Someone will upload the clip in a viral Facebook video a few months from now touting how far special effects have come along.

It says a lot about an action movie that the only memorable part of the film comes when two characters have a good old cry together.



By Mike Finnerty

Arts and Online Editor with An Focal. Galwayman keeping the DVD and Blu-Ray market alive by himself. Would watch Stop Making Sense on a continuous loop if he could.

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