Gemini Man

Gemini Man ★★½

Gemini Man, aka Deadshot vs the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

The premise doesn’t really work due to the super-soldier young version of the main character being a noticeably worse assassin than the original. Nevertheless Will Smith is charismatic and the action scenes move at a good pace so it’s not a complete waste of time.

The film follows DIA sniper Henry Brogan as he is on the verge of retirement. He learns that his latest target may have connections to a shady government cloning program, and soon finds himself pursued by an assassin who seems to be a younger version of himself. Car chases, kung fu and carnage ensue.

The plot is full of action beats, twists, turns and betrayals in a strictly formulaic fashion. The story sometimes seems designed to prove the saying that age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill; despite the promise of an epic battle between the two Henry always seems to have the upper hand over his more emotionally fragile younger counterpart. The kid looks like he wants to burst into tears after some of the more severe ass whooping sessions from Henry and his sidekicks.

The cloned version of Henry is brought to life through CGI which is an amazing achievement, particularly since it uses motion capture rather than more familiar Marvel style de-aging. There are some scenes where the effect goes into the uncanny valley but for much of the film it really is like having 90s Will Smith back in the movie, which is a nostalgic feeling to be sure.

Smith does well in the dual role and the two versions of him are sufficiently different to be interesting. Due to their respectively absent and abusive parents Henry learned to be self-reliant and create his own set of values, whilst Junior learned to submit to authority without question. It’s a more stoic and serious performance than is typical for Smith although it would have been nice to have more detail about the original version’s backstory.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a good supporting performance as Smith’s sidekick, although it’s a shame that she keeps getting stuck in underdeveloped action roles which don’t give her a chance to show her dramatic chops. Benedict Wong is also enjoyable with a typical comic relief performance which ends rather abruptly.