Summary: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.
Minor spoilers ahead…
The cast. Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are all good for the most part. There are times where it seems like no one cares what’s going on or about the story, but I think because they’re all interesting and good actors, the lame acting is overlooked. Will Smith is always fun to watch, he’s funny when he needs to be, and since he plays two characters, he gets to be a little brash, impulsive as Junior and he gets some emotional moments. As Henry, he’s “over the hill” but still very competent at his job, he’s pretty cool, as Will Smith’s characters generally are, and he gets some humor in there too. I’ve always liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she’s fine in her role, I think she might have been a little miscast but she’s fine. Benedict Wong serves his role well, he’s the “wingman” type and he’s funny when we need him to be.
Pretty Good Action. This pertains to the quick fight scene in the boathouse with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and some thug. It was brutal, she got her butt kicked but she also kicked butt too. I wish the action in the rest of the movie was more like that. The action sequence at the end was pretty good too, with Will and Mary having to face down a ton of shooters. They both were badass in that sequence. Not to mention, the fight between Will, young Will and the ninja lol. Those two moments were the only times I felt any stakes.
So Much Potential. This movie has so much potential it physically hurts me. I wasn’t holding out for a good movie when I saw the trailer, but I thought it could be interesting. I investigated it, and this movie has a long history of trying to be made. It was supposed to come out in 1997 with an original script back then with a ton of well-known actors attached to the role: Harrison Ford, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Chris O’Donnell, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Jon Voight, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Gerard Butler, Nick Nolte, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery. I wonder what exactly happened and if all these actors were attached or in talks or something. But the idea of this man being the best at his job to the point where he’s unknowingly cloned so his skills never die is cool, but I think if this movie would have explored the interactions with Henry and Junior more, or if they went a different route with the story.
Really Bad CGI. Every time after young Will’s first appearance was too much. It was very uncanny valley and it wasn’t good. It’s clear it was motion capture CGI and it wasn’t good CGI. I could not suspend my belief that Will Smith had a 23-year-old clone because it was so bad. Particularly when he talked. It was the mouth area a lot of the time and even with his eyes, it was very robotic. I would have believed it more if it was a cyborg copy instead of an organic clone. There is a scene at the end, when Will Smith, MEW and young Will is walking together and it’s clear, there are two real people and then a photoshopped CGI young Will Smith. It was bad. Really bad. The entire movie, whenever young Will came on screen, I could not take it. When he yelled at Clive Owen, his mouth… you have to see it to believe it. They should have just cast Jaden Smith as Junior or something and have it be like his “son” or something lol.
Also, the chase scene at the beginning with the motorcycles also had bad CGI. There is a shot where Will Smith is riding the motorcycle, and the camera is directly in front of him and its clearly green screen lol. I also don’t know if it was just me or not, but some characters also looked like they put some CGI on them or did some photoshop in trying to smooth out their faces. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looked a little weird sometimes and Clive Owen, though it might just be him not aging well, but he looked like playdough lol.
Lackluster action. In our first chase scene with old Will and young Will, the only thing I could think while watching was that they needed to take lessons from Tom Cruise because the choreography for the fighting wasn’t that great. First, there were times where I thought Will Smith looked funny with that big gun he carried during that scene. I think I laughed a few times. I know he can pull it off because he’s done it in other movies. Then when he was on that motorcycle, whenever it was a frontal shot of him riding, it was clearly CGI. It was just bad. Then later, old and young Will are fighting in a crypt and MEW is watching them, and it was an okay fight. It was hard to see at times, but she had plenty of chances to shoot young Will in the shoulder or in a spot that wouldn’t kill him. I don’t care if old Will is saying don’t shoot him, he’s kicking your butt. I’m shooting him. She waited till the last minute. Lame.
Weak Story/Cheesy Dialogue/Feels Dated. The writing wasn’t good. I think three people worked on the screenplay and I think it shows. I want to know what the original script was like back in 1997 because the story is weak, the dialogue is cheesy, and the movie feels old. It feels like it was made during that time of outrageous 90s action movies and it didn’t age well. There’s a part where Henry is telling Dani about stuff Clay did to him while he was being trained and even Will Smith couldn’t make me believe in that dialogue. Not to mention, the weird banter Henry and Dani had throughout the movie. It was so awkward! I don’t know if they were trying to be clever or funny, I don’t know but I wanted to physically cringe.
Emotional Stakes. I think because the story was weak it prevented us from really being invested in any of these characters. We’re supposed to care and like Henry, Dani and then sympathize with Junior and while it’s not impossible for any of this, it’s just not that interesting. Clearly, Henry ends up caring for Dani, but I never thought she was in any real danger. Then later, that first moment when Henry and Junior have this intense moment in the crypt, it’s supposed to be intense and I was like meh. Plus, the dialogue was so bad! Then later Junior and Clay have this “emotional” conversation but between the bad CGI, the bad dialogue and Clive Owen looking so disinterested, I felt nothing. I think this movie could have had a lot of emotional moments, especially with Henry/Junior and Junior/Clay but it didn’t work for me.
Overall, I really didn’t like this movie. I came to terms with it as I continued writing this review. I don’t think it’s good. Sure, the acting is okay for the most part and there are some minor positives in the action and the potential but the bad outweighs the good so much that I can’t even. The CGI is overall bad, and I’ve seen plenty of actors de-aged in movies, but this was bad. ALADDIN DID A BETTER CGI WILL SMITH. The action was lackluster, the movie feels dated, the dialogue was cheesy, and the story was so weak that when it was over, I completely forgot what I just watched. All I could think about was the bad CGI Will Smith face. The emotional stakes did not land and as a side note, I thought there were a ton of weird “technical” issues like some odd transitional choices, like that scene where Dani and Will are talking, then they both look to the side, music starts to play, and we get a transition to them on an airplane. It was so weird! I’ve seen that kind of transition work before, but it did not work here! Plus, all the random shots of the actors being close to the camera while they’re talking to another person… this movie is ugly. There you go, it’s ugly lol. Gah! That’s all, I’m done lol. If you like Will Smith and you want to see all his movies, then sure, check it out but at least wait till it’s streaming or something. Oh, this movie has a higher frame rate… that’s probably why I didn’t like how it looked lol. Look it up. lol.
Rating: 1.9 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Gemini Man? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!