Pros: Incredible 3D level; ultra-clear picture; actor rejuvenation technology; several good action scenes Cons: Weak script; predictability of most plot twists; some television-like images; Most of the action scenes are too chaotic Gemini Man / “Double”
Genre action, fantasy
Director Ang Lee
Starring Will Smith (Henry Brogen / Junior), Clive Owen (Clay Varys), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Danny), Benedict Wong (Baron), Theodora Woolley (Kitty), Linda Emond (Lassiter), etc.
Skydance Media Studios, Paramount Pictures
Year of release 2019
Although, it would seem that the team that worked on Gemini Man is as stellar as it gets. The director’s chair was taken by three-Oscar winner Ang Lee, the author of such films as Sense and Sensibility (1995), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Life of Pi (2012). The film’s cinematographer was Australian Dion Beebe, winner of the Oscar for best cinematography for the film Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and responsible for the picture in such films as Chicago (2002), Collateral (2004), Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and the recent Mary Poppins Returns. However, you will definitely notice the work of Dion Bibi in Gemini Man, but what the eminent Ang Lee was doing during filming remains a mystery.
The acting in Gemini Man also seems to be on point. Here you have Will Smith playing several roles at once and even naturally crying in the frame. And Clive Owen, who needs no introduction, plays the main villain who wanted the best, but it turned out as always. And sweet Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane) as the protagonist’s partner. By the way, if anyone should be praised for her work in Gemini Man, it’s Winstead; it’s her character who looks most natural in the frame.
However, neither the director, nor the cameraman, nor the generally good actors pull off this action movie. The problem here is primarily in the script and… marketing. The main intrigue of the film was revealed in the very first trailer and continued to be revealed in numerous interviews. However, even if you haven’t watched a single trailer and haven’t gone online at all, it’s very easy to guess who the universal killer was sent after retired Henry Brogen. Yes, in general, almost all the scenes, all the dialogues in the film can be predicted literally after ten minutes of viewing. It seems that the script was literally put together from all Hollywood cliches, and the scriptwriters were clearly competing with each other to see who could cram as many platitudes into the final script as possible. Just so you understand, the concept of the film appeared back in 1997 and at different times Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Sean Connery were supposed to star in it! It seems that after 20 years it has simply become outdated.
Even some of the film’s locations are predictable. Budapest got into Gemini Man not because it is some kind of wild exotic for US audiences, but because the Hungarian government offers good incentives for film production, inviting Hollywood companies to come. Therefore, the episode in Budapest looks like a tourist advertising brochure, taking us through all the sights of the Hungarian capital: Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes’ Square, St. Matthias Church, Széchenyi Baths, Vajdahunyad Castle, National Gallery, catacombs. However, looking at the beauty of Budapest and Cartagena (the one in Colombia, not Spain) in 3D, HDR and HFR is incredibly pleasant.
Here, in fact, we have come to what is worth watching Gemini Man for and enduring all the nonsense of the scriptwriters – technology. And the first is, of course, the technology of digital rejuvenation of actors. As you probably already know, Will Smith plays several versions of the same person here, 30 years apart. Well, it must be said that since the first use of digital rejuvenation technology (de-aging visual effects) in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), software and animator skills have taken a serious step forward . Well, even compared to the recent Captain Marvel, where we admired the young version of Nick Fury, Gemini Man is a new level. All versions of Will Smith, and there are actually more than two of them, look very natural and natural. Although Junior seems to be a mix of Will Smith and his son Jaden.
Well, the second technology for which it’s worth going to the cinema to see Gemini Man is High Frame Rate (HFR), and in this case even Extra-High Frame Rate, because the film was shot at a frequency of 120 frames per second versus the standard 24 frames per second for cinema give me a sec. This high frequency can dramatically improve image clarity, especially in dynamic scenes and especially in 3D. However, there is one small problem…
In the entire USA, for example, there are only 14 theaters (!) in which the film can be watched as it was intended, in 3D with a frequency of 120 fps. Moreover, the resolution even in these ultra-modern halls will only be 2K, while the film was shot in honest 4K. All other theaters in the US, including IMAX, will only show the film at 60 fps. If we talk about Ukraine, then in our country there are only two halls in which Gemini Man can be watched with a frequency of 60 fps – these are halls No. 3 and No. 4 of the Oscar cinema in the Gulliver shopping center equipped with Barco Laser Flagship projectors, that’s where I and I recommend that you watch this picture.
Because even at 60 fps Gemini Man is truly impressive. To be honest, I don’t like 3D because of the blurry picture, shaking, eye fatigue and because in most films 3D is done on a residual basis just for show. Well, Gemini Man is the first film since Avatar that I recommend watching exclusively in 3D (naturally, in the same halls mentioned above). Bright, juicy, incredibly clear picture – no color fades, no soap. There are no gaps in the foreground and background, a clear gradient of depth. In some scenes, particles, such as fragments from ricocheting bullets or air bubbles, seem to fly right into your face. Fantastic 3D. And yes, there is no blurring of characters in the action scenes and perhaps this is a bit of a problem.
High picture clarity, allowing you to see the smallest details, literally hurts your eyes. It is simply unusual for us and therefore the picture seems too television-like, somewhat emasculated and monotonous. Yes, when all films switch to 60 and 120 fps, we will probably get used to it, but for now such super-clarity of existence causes ambivalent feelings. And perhaps that’s why some of the action scenes look a little awkward and unnatural. This is not counting the fact that the authors have already spoiled the coolest moments in the trailers.
Gemini Man is a weak one-shot action movie, but it is a landmark film. Perhaps in HFR and HDR 3D technologies will find new life and begin to attract viewers again. At least, Ang Lee, Dion Beebe and James Cameron really hope so, it’s not for nothing that Cameron shoots Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 in HFR.
PS If readers know of other halls with HFR support in Ukraine, the author will be happy to supplement this article.
Gemini Man is a rather weak action film, but a very strong film from a technological point of view.