An aging assassin is suddenly pursued by a younger, even more lethal antagonist who turns out to be his 23-year-old clone. That’s the premise of this fascinating flick, which not only offers plenty of action, but is bound to spark some ethical discussions.
The movie opens with Henry Brogan (Will Smith), a veteran ex-Special Forces sniper turned assassin getting ready to take down a target on a high-speed train. He successfully takes the shot, but narrowly misses a little girl next to the target. Disillusioned and unable to shake off the fact that he could have easily killed the kid, he opts for retirement. It’s a decision which doesn’t sit well with government officials who want him silenced and dispatch an agent called Junior, a cloned younger identical version of him to assassinate him.
“I play a DIA agent who is essentially a spy hitman who comes to the end of a long career, and he’s done a lot of things that he is not happy 12 about, and he wants out,” Smith explains. “He retires from the agency, and they send someone to kill him. So in trying to figure out what’s going on and why they would send someone to kill him, he finds out that nearly 25 years ago, he was cloned, and they created an identical version of him that is just 23 years old, who they sent to kill him. So in the process of that, the technology is such that I played the older version of Henry, playing scenes with another actor standing in as Junior, the younger version of Henry.”
Two-time Academy Award winner Ang Lee (“Life of Pi” ) dials up every spy cliché imaginable and nicely tosses them in the blender with fight scenes, shoot-outs and brilliant motor bike chase. Using new technologies in creating Smith’s clone, Junior, a digital human character created by Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, it’s shot in 3D which accentuates and magnifies every facial expression, body movement, costume and makeup.
Smith as the steely sniper who suddenly develops a conscience after 72 kills really enjoyed taking on two roles and playing two characters and there are only a few out there who could pull off such complicated roles within the same picture.
“It’s definitely going to change how movies are made and how movies are seen,” says Smith. “Ang is really pushing the limits of how people consume this type of entertainment. He’s pushing really hard to give people an experience in the movie theatre that they can’t get anywhere else.”
Benedict Wong plays his longtime friend, Baron, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a DIA agent initially sent to surveil him, while Clive Owen plays a former Marine officer now seeking to create his own personal military organization of cloned elite soldiers and although the film doesn’t directly address world war, it makes a point about how cloning soldiers could help fight wars.
The fight scenes are fast and ferocious and relentless as Henry and Junior use anything they can get their hands on and especially engaging is that high-speed motorcycle chase through the streets of Columbia’s Cartagena.
A smart, gripping and suspenseful international thriller with science-fiction elements, “Gemini Man” doesn’t just offer thrills and visual artistry but brings up existential questions. What’s great about this film is that it’s unique, fresh and different. Lee has a taken a familiar premise and seamlessly sprinkled in some technological advancements, added a bankable and likeable star and created a film which raises a host of moral questions.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures