Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, Clive Owen
Directed by: Ang Lee
Rating; ****(4 stars)
Don’t believe the early reviews abroad. Gemini Man may not be as esoteric as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or as pathbreaking as Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. But it’s definitely an intriguing and seductive mind-bender shot in a style that is at once unique and intimate, about an aging assassin(Will Smith, taking the 50-centric jokes on his still-taut chin) who is chased down by another assassin who is exactly Smith’s clone, but 30 years younger.
Luckily for Ang Lee’s core audience, Gemini Man doesn’t devote itself to playing a game called Hum Aapke Hai Clone…Getting over the sheer awe of watching two Will Smiths—old and young—fight against one another is easy when the script moves from one expertly executed action sequence to another and some wry exchanges between people who are afraid to expose their true emotions.
This is as good a time as any to say that Gemini Man features the best bike chase I’ve ever seen in cinema from any part of the world. Without detailing the action I’d say watching Junior Smith track down the Senior Smith is a joy to behold. Will Smith excels in both the parts bringing a kind of unfathomable pain to both the older and none the wiser, and the younger naïve touchy clone.
Where the film fails is in detailing the lives of the other characters. The very charming Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are mere sidekicks to Smith’s character brought in to add cultural diversity to a plot that bristles with activity and yet manages to remain calm on the top.
The narrative also makes room for humour. Smith’s boss at his son’s school needs to talk to Smith from an unknown number. He offers passing girl students 100 dollars to make the call from her phone. The mundane is never too far away from global affairs.
Interestingly Smith and Winstead are never shown getting romantically attached to one another. We are not sure the older Smith has had much of a love life. He portrays a character so frayed at the edges that the centre threatens to fall apart. As for the younger Smith, it is a marvel of CGs, yes. But the tears of fear vulnerability and uncertainty are real. This is where this hard-edged soft-hearted tale of introspective action scores the best.
Gemini Man doesn’t move back in awe of its own technical superiority. Instead, the narrative wraps its head around the characters, unraveling their uncertain lives across several continents without getting breathless.