2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Ang Lee has had a career of extreme highs and lows with the box office and awarding winning turns with Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, but less than stellar results with the most recent film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Regardless of his varied career, when a director has won two Academy Awards for his work, the industry takes notice when he announces his new project. Especially when it involves the star power of Will Smith, an actor who has proven to be a mainstay in the industry, but the last decade has had hits and misses. As he comes off his recent hit in Aladdin, which has given him his most significant box office success, the superstar seems to be on an upward turn. Gemini Man is promising with these two Hollywood veterans involved, but will it prove to be a high or a low in each of their careers?

Smith plays a seasoned and celebrated government assassin who is on the verge of retirement. Upon receiving the orders for his last job, Henry Brogan realises that his target is an innocent American citizen. Instead of merely following orders, the veteran begins to do some investigation and while searching for answers he becomes a ‘loose end’ and a target for his government. He has been under attack before, but nothing could have prepared him to discover that his assailant was a 23-year-old version of himself named Junior. 

As he attempts to stay a few steps ahead of his alter-ego, Henry has to find some new allies. He partners with a younger female agent named Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and reconnects with of his old military friends to solve the mind-bending mystery of how this happened. The action goes into high gear as this unsuspecting team investigate the secrets behind this bizarre set of circumstances and work to stay alive at the same time. 

The new 3D technology enhances the well-choreographed stunt sequences, but the real drama of the film is between the two assassins. In amongst the action, Henry tries to convince Junior that he is fed lies from the head of Gemini, Clay Verriss (Clive Owen). The organisation that has produced these super soldiers and weapons to the government, but their intentions are not what they seem.

Each member of the cast gives their all to represent their roles well, but it is the effects and the steady stream of action that drives the film. Where the film seems to struggle is in the scripting and dialogue between key characters. As in any Ang Lee film, the philosophical aspects of the movie can prove to be the centrepiece of the film. In Gemini Man, the script cuts a fine line between profound and laughable like examples such as this one, “If they wanted to improve the world you’d think they’d clone Nelson Mandella.” 

Even to the most devoted Lee and Smith fans, this proves that even the best artists can fail to have a good day. The screenplay does not follow a logical path and is challenging to follow from the opening scene. As things begin to become more evident in the screenplay and the action starts to ramp up, things come apart at the conclusion. Not to say that Gemini Man was not enjoyable or entertaining, it did prove to be a fun night at the theatre. The question that remains is if this film would have been better if it was made 20 years ago and the roles were reversed?

Reel Dialogue: Should we be trying to improve on mankind? 

The movie raises ethical issues around cloning. Is it possible to produce a perfect version of yourself through nature (cloning and genetic manipulation) and nurture? Will governments in the future clone ‘super’ soldiers devoid of conscience and the ability to feel pain? It is justified in the movie as follows: “No vet will come home with PTSD”? Is this just humans playing God and reaping nightmarish outcomes?

One of the answers to this question is found in the study of the Bible. Based on the premise of the creator God who made all mankind in his image, it is no wonder that God’s creation would want to create. This desire manifests itself in art, food, clothing, housing and even into the sciences. There is a multitude of moral juxtapositions to wrestle through in this consideration of creating new life, but the very nature to create is ingrained in humanity.

The only challenge is that God continues to prove that he is the only one to get it right when it comes to the creation of humanity. So, is the desire to create new life merely a lesson in futility or too hard to deny? Discuss. 

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16