Entertainment » Movies

Gemini Man

by Charles Nash
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jan 21, 2020
Gemini Man

When "Gemini Man" was released in theaters back in October of last year, it was presented in a special format. Most films, the ones that are still made on actual film, at least, are typically projected at a rate of 24 FPS (frames per second), but certain filmmakers have been experimenting with certain frame rates in an attempt to provide the viewer with an even more immersive experience. Peter Jackson shot "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," at 48 FPS (and a half-assed 3D conversion), but its efforts to transport audiences back into Middle Earth ended up being a colossal misfire: the crisp, high definition only accentuated every blemish of make-up, the artificiality of the sets, and made the whole picture look as if it was playing out at 1.5 speed. (I nearly puked while watching the damn thing.)

With his past two films, director Ang Lee has been pushing the medium even further by upping the ante to 120 FPS in 3D. When Billy Lynn's "Long Halftime Walk" premiered at the New York Film Festival back in 2016, the reception was brutal. Most of the attendees claimed that the format ultimately made the picture look reminiscent of a horrible football demo one might see at Best Buy, and the stink it left on the film as a whole resulted in a measly $30.9 million at the international box office. (The film cost $40 million.)

Yet, Lee persisted to work in this format again with "Gemini Man," which, like Billy Lynn, failed to connect with the majority of critics and audiences. And, while reviews did state that Lee's shooting style within this advanced frame rate was a vast improvement over his previous collaboration, the consensus seemed split over whether this aesthetic approach is a form of technical wizardry or a garish distraction.

Now, with "Gemini Man" being released on physical media, it's no longer possible to view the film in its original format. Even the 4K Blu-ray can only present the film at 60 FPS, and there's no option to view the film in 3D. I, personally, viewed the film on Blu-ray with a normal frame rate, but the question is if you can't see the film as Ang Lee intended, is it worth seeking out in a more visually truncated format? Despite its flaws, I say, yes.

Plot-wise, the screenplay by David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke treads very familiar waters. Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, an assassin on the verge of retirement until he's confronted by a clone of his younger self, who's been sent to kill him by a classified black ops unit called GEMINI. It's essentially a lesser version of Rian Johnson's "Looper," but with Will Smith in a dual role; through the use of (not entirely convincing) de-aging technology, the visual effects team has gone to great lengths to make Smith's clone look like the star himself is 25 years younger.

It's a script that's been circulating since 1997, and at times "Gemini Man" does play out like a story that Lee brushed a cloud of dust off of and made little to no further adjustments. Aesthetically, however, this is often a stunning work of craftsmanship. The various action sequences, including a riveting motorcycle chase in which Smith literally smacks Smith in the face with his back wheel, are shot and choreographed with a fluidity that reminded me of the legendary John Woo. Even viewing the film through this more minimal format, Lee reminds us that he's an exquisite visual stylist. Cinematographer Dion Beebe's sharp compositions combined with Tim Squyres propulsive editing give the set-pieces explosive energy, making even the silliest of moments joyously thrilling to behold.

"Gemini Man" doesn't hold a candle to some of Lee's previous masterworks, such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Ice Storm," but it's undeniably the work of a major auteur who's dedicated to pushing cinematic craftsmanship in new directions, even with the flimsiest material.

The Blu-ray/DVD bonus features include an alternate opening, featurettes, and deleted scenes.

"Gemini Man"
Paramount Blu-ray/DVD Combo

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