Paramount Pictures recently screened three scenes from Gemini Man, and here’s a complete description of each one. Getting Gemini Man onto the big screen hasn’t been easy; in fact, just getting the film out of development hell and into production has been quite a long and arduous journey. After spending years at Disney, the rights to Gemini Man, which was originally written by screenwriter Darren Lemke (who most recently co-wrote the script for DC’s Shazam!), was ultimately acquired by Skydance in 2016.
Skydance and producer Jerry Bruckheimer then pushed the movie forward, bringing on Ang Lee to direct and Will Smith to star in the two lead roles: Henry, the aging assassin, and Junior, a 23-year-old clone of Henry who’s been sent by the Gemini organization to kill him. Since then, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, and Clive Owen, among others, have been brought on in supporting roles.
To note, it’s taken Hollywood over 20 years to finally make Gemini Man, after multiple studios had gone through a revolving door of actors, writers, and directors, including people such as Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and even Clint Eastwood, as well as Tony Scott as director and Game of Thrones‘ David Benioff as writer. But everything seemed to fall into place with Lee in the director’s chair and Smith in front of the camera. So how did it all turn out? Does Gemini Man live up to its full potential?
Taking place closer to the middle of the film, the first Gemini Man scene shown to press begins inside a house in Colombia. Henry wakes up and sees a man (“a sniper”) running along the rooftop. He alerts Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Baron (Benedict Wong) in a no-nonsense way, at which point Baron calls him a terrible house guest. Henry then lures Junior away from the house by walking down the street – but he keeps an eye on Junior by seeing his reflection in the pond.
A shootout begins in the streets when Henry fires his pistol, through his own jacket, at Junior. Henry then runs behind a parked car, and the camera focuses in on the car’s side mirror to show where Junior is. After some more shots, Henry runs and takes cover behind a wall, at which point he takes out his own rifle. Junior makes a mistake and stands up, searching the area for Henry, which is when Henry sees Junior’s face for the first time through the scope of his own weapon. Of course, seeing his younger self makes him hesitate, and so, Junior takes a shot at Henry first.
Their conflict carries into the courtyard of another building. We see two grenades being used at this point: the first of which is when Junior throws a grenade at Henry, who knocks it back using his hand. And the second is when Henry and Junior are in a standoff at the stairs – Henry on the second floor and Junior walking up from the ground floor, with a large mirror in the middle for them to use to see each other. Henry questions why Junior is after him, then he tosses a grenade down the staircase, only for Junior to shoot it back using his pistol.
Later on in the film, Danny is captured by Junior and then taken down into what appears to be catacombs, in order to be used as bait for Henry. While they’re walking through the area, she routinely calls out things – Junior’s grenade, lighting, his gas mask, etc. – which we later find out is because she’s talking to Henry using an earpiece. Not long after, Henry triggers the tripwire, purposefully, and gets the drop on Junior, using various tools at his disposal to overwhelm him.
It seems Junior doesn’t realize that Henry is his older (read: original) self, and Henry begins listing off many, many things about himself that people don’t know but Junior might, such as the fact that he hates cilantro and hunts animals on his birthday. Of course, things escalate and Junior tries to grab Henry’s gun, which ultimately leads to an extended fight sequence, primarily utilizing hand-to-hand combat. It’s quite a long take, and it’s meant to showcase the technology behind the film, as Smith’s Henry is clearly fighting his younger self, not anyone else.
It’s revealed that Clay Varris (Clive Owen) cloned Henry many years ago and raised him as his own son, thereby giving Junior all of Henry’s abilities but without all of his pain. This particular scene has been played out in the Gemini Man trailers, in which Junior tells Varris that he “made a person out of another person.” The scene begins with Junior entering Varris’ office, presumably at Gemini’s headquarters. Varris asks him why it’s so difficult for him to “kill this man” – speaking about Smith’s Henry. It doesn’t take long for Junior to turn the tables on Varris, who reacts defensively, not apologizing for what he did. Varris calls his mistruths necessary lies. (He lied to Junior about Junior’s parents dumping him at a local fire station when he was a baby, for instance.)
Paramount Pictures showcased these three scenes for various reasons, the number one being that they all highlight Gemini Man‘s technology. Ang Lee, along with visual effects studios Weta Digital, worked tirelessly to deliver a unique experience that pushes the boundaries of modern filmmaking. This is evident by Junior being a 100% digital character created through motion-capture (think: Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story); Will Smith isn’t “de-aged” as has been common practice in recent blockbuster movies.
In that regard, Gemini Man is certainly impressive, but it’s quite clear at times, especially during the fight in the catacombs, that Junior is a digital character; it’s the quick movements the character makes and the unnatural ways the body contorts compared to Henry that gives it away. However, it seems that Lee’s experiment with higher frame-rates in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has been nearly perfected for this film. It does feel like watching a real-life action sequence. Audiences are certainly in for an intriguing ride with Gemini Man, but whether or not they react positively to the film’s new tech remains to be seen.
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