Although the Gemini Man early reviews reveal it impressed critics with its amazing technical effects, they were far less impressed with the movie's actual story. Gemini Man, directed by Ang Lee, stars Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an aging government assassin who finds himself the target of a younger clone version of himself. Not only does Henry have to protect himself from a clone that knows his every move, he also must uncover the mystery behind its existence.
One of the most impressive features of Gemini Man is its special effects, particularly in the way that the movie portrays a younger Smith as the clone. Although this kind of digital magic has become more prevalent in modern film, Lee, with help from Weta Digital, has taken the process a step further. Instead of merely de-aging Smith with CGI, which is standard practice in films like this, the clone is a fully-realized digital character created through the use of motion capture, with Smith acting out the role. Early reactions to Gemini Man praised the technology used, along with its 3D, high frame rate (HFR), CGI and cinematography. However, critics are now beginning to weigh in on the film as a whole.
You can read through spoiler-free excerpts from the Gemini Man early reviews below. For more, click on the corresponding links to check out the reviews in full.
Stephen Dalton, The 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.
Peter Debruge, Variety
In theory, Gemini Man offers quite the novelty, a chance to witness an older A-list star (Will Smith) face off against a deadly computer-generated version of himself (who looks like the zombie double for Smith, circa “Bad Boys,” minus his signature “Aw hell naw” charisma). In practice, it’s been a nearly impossible project to get made, passing through the hands of countless actors and falling through multiple times because the technology wasn’t there yet. At least, that’s been the excuse, although judging by the finished product, it was the script that never lived up to the promise of its premise.
Mike Reyes, Cinema Blend
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.
Ella Kemp, IndieWire
But it’s the script that fails the concept. Once the initial shock of the twist has worn off, revelatory conversations are paced with a total lack of tension, acting as wooden narrative roadblocks rather than crucial words between actual living, thinking human beings. Everything is in service of the aesthetic – in the same way that Junior struggles to become his full self, a clone with a soul, Gemini Man fails to ever fully become a whole movie, surviving instead as a successful science experiment of great tech and poor heart.
Nicholas Barber, The Wrap
Darren Lemke sold his screenplay for Gemini Man back in 1997, and it has been cropping up in articles about great unmade films ever since. Unfortunately, the “Gemini Man” that Ang Lee has finally made has such risible dialogue, such perfunctory characterization, and such rudimentary international-espionage plotting that viewers will soon stop asking why it took so long to go into production, and start asking why it went into production at all.
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily
While the plot of Gemini Man is little more than a variation of the Mission Impossible or Bourne pictures, the film itself means they can’t quite be made as they have been before. Camera shots that seem to bend around the screen; hand-held camera right in the middle of chase sequences with a level of realism that has not been previously achieved – there’s no facial blurring – casts doubt on the future of CGI as we know it. The backgrounding and foregrounding of characters and extras is fascinating in a way that feels alien and often ugly but is also technically life-like. It’s all theoretically much more interesting than the drama on screen, however, making Gemini Man essentially a prototype, like one of its antagonists.
These reviews might seem a little disappointing, especially considering the history of Gemini Man. The initial idea for the movie dates back to 1997. It went through a multitude of directors and lead actors before Lee and Smith joined the project in 2017. Because there were several versions of the script, Gemini Man's writing credits include Darren Lemke (Shazam!), David Benioff (Game of Thrones) and Billy Ray (Overlord). The idea to use CGI to make an older actor look younger was always part of the film's concept. It's probably a good idea that it took this long for the film to get made since the technology needed to do this effectively didn't exist until recently.
Unfortunately, according to critics, the film's technology doesn't seem to be enough to save the movie from a bland story. However, there still seems to be a considerable disconnect between critics and general audiences. Gemini Man could still do well when it lands in theaters on Oct. 11. Smith remains a box office draw, and many fans will want to see the movie's high-tech effects for themselves.
Source: Various (see the links above)
- Gemini Man (2019) release date: Oct 11, 2019