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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gemini Man is director Ang Lee's sci-fi/action movie starring Will Smith as an assassin who comes face-to-face with a younger clone of himself. Violence is the biggest issue: There are guns and shooting, car chases and explosions, martial arts-type fighting, a character being slammed with a motorcycle, and secondary characters dying. One character asks another to strip so he can search her for listening devices, but nothing graphic is shown. Language isn't frequent but includes a use of "f--k" and uses of "s--t," "hell," and more. There's some social drinking. Unfortunately, the half-baked screenplay and flat characters render the movie something of a sad misfire.
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What's the story?
In GEMINI MAN, we meet Henry Brogan (Will Smith), who was the world's most highly skilled assassin -- able to take out a target on a moving bullet train from a hillside -- until his decision to retire. In Georgia, Henry rents a boat to meet an old friend, who warns him that the man Henry just killed was actually a scientist. Then Henry realizes that his boat was tapped, and that the person who rented it to him 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. 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!
Is it any good?
This sluggish, dull, special effects-driven actioner fails twice: In engaging with an intellectual discussion of clones and in its attempt to find strong emotional ground on the same subject. 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 normally a warm, funny, compulsively watchable actor, but in trying to convey Henry'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 really lets the seams show.
The story, which takes its characters all over the world, grows more and more implausible -- no one ever gets jet lag? -- and runs out of momentum before 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. And they're not entirely appalling, but the movie's 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Danny can hold her own in a fight, but is she a strong female character? Why or why not?
How does the effects technology that created a copy of star Smith strike you? Is the copy lifelike? Is it cool or creepy?
- In theaters: October 11, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: January 14, 2020
- Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen
- Director: Ang Lee
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and action throughout, and brief strong language
- Last updated: January 13, 2020
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