Henry Brogan (Will Smith) realises his days as an assassin for the US government are drawing to an end. He believes he is not as physically and mentally as capable as he used to be and more tellingly, he doesn’t feel he could handle the job with the psychological and emotional detachment he had as a younger man. As he prepares for his retirement, he discovers he is under surveillance. It becomes clear that there are many people who don’t want Henry to retire and he must work out why this is and who these people are, before it gets him killed.
GEMINI MAN is an action thriller built on a wildly unlikely espionage plot that would like to rival the Bourne movies (and uses very similar musical cues at times) but is more in the mould of the later Mission Impossible films. Which isn’t a knock on the MI flicks, but more a description of the type of world the audience is being offered.
Beyond the flying hardware and plentiful CGI, the heart of the story is Henry Brogan’s lack of connection with other people. He is 52 but has never had a significant relationship or a family because he didn’t see these as possible because of his job. Now, pitched into a fight for his life, he finds himself having to rely on the skills, and trust in the motivations, of a young secret service agent, Danny (May Elizabeth Winstead), and an old military buddy, Baron (Benedict Wong).
The search to find out who wants him dead, takes Harry to South America and Europe. The pressure and suspense is consistent. As the story plays out, Henry is forced to confront the choices he made and examine his life. How will he live going forward? We have seen retiring spies before, in movies like RED (2010) with Bruce Willis. And this film offers nothing new in that category. To tell Henry’s “regrettable past” strand of the story, GEMINI MAN gives us an excellent de-aged Will Smith. It’s right up there in quality with de-aged Samuel L. Jackson in CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019).
Despite the take some reviewers have on Ang Lee’s action chops, the man who directed RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999) and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) has a decent body of work in kinetic visuals. However, as good as some of the action sequences are in this movie, it doesn’t stand out particularly and at times is weighed down with BS CGI physics; an early motorcycle scene is notable for some over-the-top XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE-type silliness.
The screen presence and charisma of Will Smith is the chief reason to watch this picture. Although there are the Men in Black and Bad Boys movies, a solo Will Smith action franchise is a long time coming. He is always an engaging presence who can elevate a movie that isn’t quite there, like I AM LEGEND (2007). And he was one of the best parts of SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) as the character Deadshot (who is kind of the bad-guy mirror image of the Henry Brogan character). In addition to Smith, the film benefits from the contributions of Winstead, Wong and Clive Owen, who are all as solid as one might expect.
GEMINI MAN has a workable script, reasonable action and a good cast. AccessReel saw an HFR (High Frame Rate) 3D version that looked very shmick indeed. However the movie remains an entertaining, but not particularly memorable, popcorn flick. Duration: 1 hour 57 minutes. (6.5/10)