‘Gemini Man’ Review: Genetic Parents Just Don’t Understand

Gemini Man is the ultimate Will Smith movie. It’s Will Smith in blockbuster mode with an artful director like Ang Lee, playing off his ultimate costar: Will Smith. Smith has battled aliens, robots, zombie vampires, orcs and fairies, even giant metal spiders. The only way to top Will Smith’s previous exploits is with another Will Smith.

Gemini Man Will Smith
Will Smith | Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

‘Gemini Man’ oh man

Henry Brogan (Smith) is the best assassin the Defense Intelligence Agency has, but he’s ready to retire. The DIA likes its loose ends tied up, not retired, so they send their newest assassin after Henry. When Henry gets a good look at the assassin, he recognizes him. Junior is actually a younger version of Henry. 

The action between Henry and Junior is exciting because they keep one upmanship. Is it still oneupmanship when it’s yourself? It’s same upmanship. Smith always had great one-liners, but in Gemini Man he actually gets to zing himself.

It looks unlike any action movie you’ve ever seen 

Ang Lee filmed Gemini Man with high frame rate cameras. Most films are shot at 24 frames per second and played back with 24 frames every second. Gemini Man uses 120 frames per second. Be prepared for the movie to look different. You’d think a movie would still look like a movie, but the image quality is noticeably altered. 

Ang Lee and Will Smith making Gemini Man
Ang Lee and Will Smith on the set of Gemini Man | Ben Rosenstein/Paramount Pictures

What high frame rate does is make the picture appear more like a window looking in on live actors, as if the window has no glass and the actors are performing a play on 360 degree sets. It’s far more distinctive than 3D (which Gemini Man also utilizes) and takes this high tech premise to a high tech presentation level.

You really feel Henry ride a motorcycle through the narrow alleys of Colombia. We’ve seen millions of explosions in action movies, but when debris flies in slow motion at high frame rate you feel like you could touch it. The only other high frame rate action movies were The Hobbit trilogy and that early use of 48 frame per second was full of glitches. 

Will Smith and Ang Lee making Gemini Man
Will Smith and Ang Lee on the set of Gemini Man | Ben Rosenstein/Paramount Pictures

In an age when too many action movies feel like shaking the camera is a good idea, not only is Gemini Man’s action clear but clarity is the premise. It’s not enough just to see Will Smith fight Will Smith. It has to be so clear that you just know what you’re watching shouldn’t look real, but it looks even more real than the most realistic special effects.

A very special episode of ‘Gemini Man’

Will Smith is in blockbuster mode again, but he also brings his spiritual mode, his drama mode and even his “very special episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” mode, all in one movie. Junior doesn’t believe Henry is him at first, just like any young man would resist the inevitable. When he’s back from a mission, he becomes just a scared boy. He’s just returned from the first situation in his life where he didn’t have total control. 

Will Smith in Gemini Man
Will Smith in Gemini Man | Paramount Pictures

Clay (Clive Owen) created Junior but genetically removed Henry’s fears and anxieties. The human condition is such to make your own. Fans of Fresh Prince surely remember the powerful episode when Will’s father (Ben Vereen) visits and abandons him again. Smith relives that very special episode all over again when Junior confronts the truth about his father. 

Gemini Men and Woman

Henry isn’t battling junior alone. He has help from Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Baron (Benedict Wong). Both are standout characters in a movie where the lead actor is the basis of the outrageous premise. Winstead has agency and it’s refreshing that the movie is smart enough not to force a romance just because there are male and female characters. Wong has great chemistry with Smith.

Gemini Man has bigger themes on its mind like nature vs. nurture and what makes someone an individual. Those seem to be the themes Smith and Lee are interested in exploring, and they are great themes for any movie. Gemini Man still delivers epic action and military hardware that would make Michael Bay jealous.