Text Box: DVDSleuth.com

Text Box:   




DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.


Gemini Man (2019)

Paramount Home Entertainment

4K UHD Released: 1/14/2020

All Ratings out of

Movie: 1/2




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/4/2020

When it comes to my all-time favorite directors, the list is dominated by names from the world of horror – Carpenter, Craven, Raimi.  However, there are certainly filmmakers from other genres that I admire, especially those who refuse to be pigeonholed.  Take Danny Boyle for example.  Not only does he have a great visual style, he has gone out of his way to prove that he’s willing to tackle a wealth of different subjects and stories.  Fellow Oscar winner Ang Lee has taken a similar career path.  From Jane Austen to ancient China to comic-book films, Lee has shown a deft hand at tackling different genres.  In recent years, he’s also shown an affinity for pushing the boundaries of movie-making technology.  We see both of these trends continue in Gemini Man.

Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a former soldier who now works as an assassin for the government and he’s the best at what he does.  But, following his latest job, he’s considering retiring.  These feelings are amplified when his buddy, Jack (Douglas Hodge), informs him that his last target was an innocent man.  Determined to get to the bottom of this, Henry now feels that he’s being followed.  When he meets a young agent named Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), his suspicions are confirmed.  Danny pledge to help Henry and the two begin to follow the clues.  However, a shadowy figure is pursuing Henry, one whose skills seem to mirror those of the hitman.

While watching Gemini Man, it becomes clear that there are two components of the film which are supposed to be the selling points.  The first is the story, which involves Henry confronting someone who looks just like him.  (This isn’t a spoiler, as this plot point is revealed in the trailer.)  The idea of a doppleganger, evil double, or bad clone has been seen in other films and Gemini Man attempts to update this concept by having the duplicate be a younger version of Henry.  Yet, outside of this notion, nothing, and I mean nothing in Gemini Man feels the least bit original.  This is just another Mission: Impossible meets James Bond film in which our heroes must travel the world searching for clues and getting into gunfights.  We don’t get the cliched world maps with the dotted lines representing the characters’ flight paths, but, we might as well, as Henry and Danny jet from country to country attempting to learn the truth.  These moments are so shockingly familiar that they fail to generate any interest.

The other aspect of Gemini Man which is meant to be appealing is its use of technology.  Anti-aging effects are all the rage in movies now and we’ve seen them in things like Ant-Man and The Irishman.  This is taken to the next level in Gemini Man, as we learn from the special features here that there are scenes in the movie where we are looking at a completely digital Will Smith.  This is truly amazing as human features have long since been a challenge for VFX artists.  While this is truly impressive, it doesn’t do much to make Gemini Man a better movie.  The other piece here is Director Ang Lee’s continued love of 120 fps photography, which he debuted in 2016’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.  Lee contends that this technology gives movies a hyper-realistic look, but, for me, it makes them look like made-for-TV shot on video productions from the 1970s.  There’s no doubt that the picture here is clear (more on that in a moment), but this approach also robs the filmmaker (or at least Lee) of a truly artistic approach.  Everything here is bright and clear, and there’s no attempt to create dark, atmospheric moments – every shot looks the same.  This approach gives the movie a sterile look.

There’s no doubt that Ang Lee is a gifted filmmaker, but since his triumphant work in 2012’s Life of Pi, he has been on a downward trajectory, and I blame his insistence on technology over storytelling.  While he continues to be a director who clearly isn’t afraid of tackling different genres, he seems to have lost his knack for creating believable characters which serve as a bridge for the viewer.  On one level, Gemini Man works as a competent action film, and it’s better than your run-of-the-mill car-chase and gunfight movie, but we expect more from Ang Lee and Will Smith.  The film’s sheer mediocrity is enough to doom it.  When an Oscar-winning filmmaker is offering a movie made with cutting-edge technology, ho-hum should not be the result.  Will Smith may spend have of the movie fighting with himself, but me and my conscious quickly agreed to put this film behind us.

Gemini Man has twice the Will Smith and half the charm on 4K UHD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains a 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 85 Mbps.  The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials.  This transfer offers the 120 fps presentation which is preferred by Lee and it delivers a picture which is incredibly clear and lifelike.  The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The depth is spectacular and one feels as if one could step into the picture and the level of detail is unsurpassed.  Still, as noted above, this look robs the film of any artistic qualities.  Sure, it looks amazing, but it feels weird.  The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  This is a powerful track which lends atmosphere to the action sequences.  We get detailed surround sound and stereo effects which highlight individual sounds.  The audio moves very smoothly from the front to the rear.  The subwoofer is quite muscular and we feel each explosion and gunshot.

The Gemini Man 4K UHD contains one extra feature.  “Visual Effects Progression Presented by WETA” (3 minutes) shows the incredible amount of work which can go into seemingly simple shots, leading us to question if anything in movies is actually real anymore.  The remainder of the extras are found on the Blu-ray Disc included in this set.  The Disc offers two DELETED SCENES which run about 5 minutes.  The first is quite brief, but the second one is much longer as it delivers a scene which was re-cast and re-shot after initial photography.  We are also treated to an “Alternate Opening” (6 minutes) which edits in another scene with the footage seen in the finished movie.  “The Genesis of Gemini Man” (3 minutes) has Smith, Lee, and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer talking about the story and how the idea was developed years ago, and technology finally caught up with it.  “Facing Your Younger Self” (6 minutes) is a conversation of the concept of meeting yourself and how Smith approached this idea.  “The Future is Now” (19 minutes) shows how the film went beyond age-changing effects to creating a 100% digital Will Smith for some shots.  We get some on-set footage of Smith doing the motion-capture work.  “Setting the Action” (16 minutes) takes us behind the scenes to see how the stuntwork and action sequences were done.  “Next Level Detail” (4 minutes) shows us the work which went into the creating the catacomb set.  The director and his love for visual storytelling is examined “The Vision of Ang Lee” (6 minutes).

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long