Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Will Smith Film GEMINI MAN?
Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.
The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Mark Hughes, Forbes: Gemini Man is a bad story that makes no sense and fails all over the place. It's inconsistent, it doesn't earn its emotional beats, it presents a shallow examination of its themes, and it feels like a movie made from a synopsis of an idea rather than a fully formed and finished story. However, it also contains a charming cast with terrific chemistry together who have fun moments together with enjoyable banter. It also features some top-notch action sequences pushing the envelop with new technologies you need to see to appreciate. Combining these elements with the positive aspects mentioned above regarding the cast, all Gemini Man needed was a good story to hold it all together and turn it into a win... which is the crucial ingredient the film lacks, and why it ultimately fails.
Thomas Floyd, The Washington Post: Although there are moments when "Gemini Man" probes deeper themes of self-reflection, the film fails to investigate its high concept in any meaningful way. Unfortunately for Smith, Lee and the writing team, all of the computer-generated Botox in the world can't smooth over the wrinkles of dated storytelling.
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: Everything is either too bright or too dim. Action sequences rattle on in murky twilight, and actual places look like cartoons. It takes some work to make Budapest and Cartagena look like generic video-game backdrops, but Lee succeeds. Whatever mystery, intrigue or charm might have percolated in the story and the performances is bleached away by the soulless literalism of the pictures. The partial exception, as I've suggested, can be found in Smith's faces, which haunt each other. The idea of confronting an unknown second self is full of rich, uncanny potential - there's a literary tradition going back at least to Edgar Allan Poe - but "Gemini Man" squanders it, along with what might have been two interesting performances.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times: But no catharsis is forthcoming, thanks to a shopworn script and a visual gimmick that feels more distracting than necessary. There are charitable explanations for the uncanny-valley effect of Smith 2.0; maybe your younger clone should look a little off, a little CGI. But it remains an empty, off-putting stunt, and not a particularly moving one. No matter how many (presumably non-computer-generated) tears Smith sheds, he and Lee never transform this baby hit man into a plausible science-fiction conceit, let alone invest him with a soul.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club: Because for all of its tear-stained speechifying about how you aren't what they made you, the film is best enjoyed for its killer qualities: Lee's gracefully elastic direction of the sequence that first introduces Junior, pitting him against Henry in a series of shoot-outs that turns into an awesome motorcycle chase; the spotless hand-to-hand fights; the way the climactic showdown (staged against the less-than-scenic backdrop of a small-town hardware store) turns into fiery, full-bore martial arts action; the fisheye lenses, digitally composited smash zooms, and other eccentric touches with which Lee seasons the set pieces. Like its characters, Gemini Man is groan-inducingly sincere, but runs like a machine when it counts.
Charles Bramesco, The Verge: Some of the film's issues, though, might be owed to a thick-headed script that clashes with the forward-thinking industry intellect applied to its production. Audiences at theaters other than the dozen or so featuring 120fps projection will have a slightly easier time sifting for the story buried in here somewhere, a thin science-fiction-inflected potboiler pitting an assassin against his own genetic duplicate.
Matt Goldberg, Collider: Gemini Man could very well be director Ang Lee's worst movie. I can't say for certain because there are a few I haven't seen, but at the very least, it's a far cry from when the director cared about making movies about people. Even his misbegotten Hulk adaptation is concerned with a tortured father-son relationship as much as its CGI superhero. But that kind of care is nowhere to be found in the bland and generic Gemini Man, a movie that avoids all of its interesting ideas about identity and legacy in favor of Will Smith fighting a younger CGI version of Will Smith whose appearance ranges from convincing to cartoony. There's no artistry or substance to Gemini Man. There's just a director trying out a tool that some other filmmaker will probably use to far better effect sometime in the near future.
Mark Jenkins, NPR: Smith moved from hip-hop and sitcoms to big-screen roles thanks to boyish charm and an ability to deliver wisecracks as he dispensed bullets and blows. He acquits himself well enough in the movie's action scenes, some of which are well-staged, but can't do much with Henry's lousy lines. But perhaps the actor intentionally downplayed his trademark insouciance so as not call attention to the stiffness of Henry's alter-ego. The machine-generated Junior is a lot more convincing as a menacing, wordless action figure than as a bio-tech Pinocchio who manages to become a real boy.
Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter: Behind its high-tech visual gimmicky, Gemini Man is a dumb, depthless, undemanding fanboy pleaser which plants Smith dangerously close to Liam Neeson and Nicolas Cage in the midlife action-man league. That said, the huge profits scored by Aladdin and Suicide Squad prove that the 51-year-old star still commands enough global fan loyalty to elevate even mediocre films into critic-proof hits. His enduring marquee power, in tandem with Lee's track record, could still generate big numbers when Paramount releases the movie Oct. 11 in U.S. theaters, with a worldwide rollout to follow. But both director and star have done much better work before.
Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend: Instead, what Gemini Man represents is a film that's crossed the finish line, only to look back at what it could have been and sigh. While Ang Lee's technical mastery is something you need to see to believe, the story that sits behind the stunning visuals is a little hollow and dated. Gemini Man is the ultimate catch-22. It's a story that would have worked so much better when it started development in 1997, but now includes current-era visual effects that best serve the spectacle Gemini Man sets out to achieve. In between those two lanes is where this movie rides, allowing itself to have some impressive moments of dazzling showmanship and intriguing action, but with very little message behind it.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily: Seen at 60 frames per second (fps) on 3D-Plus (2K resolution), Ang Lee's action spectacular Gemini Man proved a compulsive watch: not for the usual ingredients of can't-look-away Hollywood cinema such as acting - Will Smith takes a dual role - or plot, both of which fell a little flat, and seemed almost wilfully generic. As a viewing experience, though, this picture delivers as a prototype of future action film-making. Full of movie magic, but not at all magical, Gemini Man could prove a game-changing event for the industry, although it is unlikely to make a similarly deep impression at the box office.