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With: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown, Linda Emond, Ilia Volok, E.J. Bonilla
Written by: David Benioff, Billy Ray, Darren Lemke
Directed by: Ang Lee
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language
Running Time: 117
Date: 10/11/2019

Gemini Man (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Clone Marrow

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This sluggish, dull special effects-driven action movie fails both to engage with its intellectual discussion of clones, and also with its attempt to find strong emotional ground on the same subject.

In Gemini Man, Henry Brogan (Will Smith) was the world's most highly-skilled hitman, able to take out a target on a moving bullet train from a hillside, until his decision to retire. In Georgia, he rents a boat to meet an old friend, who warns him that the man he just killed was actually a scientist. Henry realizes that his boat was tapped and that the boat rental woman is actually also a secret agent, Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Before long, snipers are coming after both Henry and Danny, so they hit the road with the help of pilot Baron (Benedict Wong) to try to figure out who's after them and why. But in Colombia, Henry is targeted by another sniper, and this one is different from all the others. In fact, he looks just like a younger version of Henry!

Director Ang Lee continues his string of technology-advancing movies, but while Life of Pi worked nicely, both Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Gemini Man seem to have neglected the human connection. Even the real Smith seems muted here; he's is normally a warm, funny, compulsively watchable actor, but in trying to convey his character's lifetime of pain, he simply shuts down. The clone version is kept mostly in shadows to hide its fake, rubbery quality; a scene shot in bright sunlight allows the seams to really show.

The story, which takes the characters all over the world, grows more and more implausible — no one gets jet lag? — and runs out of momentum before too long. Aside from some professional-looking stunts and smooth chase scenes, the action only rarely thrills. But what's missing overall is a point.

The villain (Clive Owen) has his reasons for creating clone soldiers, but they're not entirely appalling. Yet the entire conversation about clones, issues like permission, whether they have souls, and how they might be treated by humans, is completely ignored. The folks who made Gemini Man clearly put in a great deal of work, but this high-concept movie only yields low-impact results.

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