Audio review available on Episode 158
Sometimes film makers get so wrapped up in the visual that they forget about other aspects of the movie. Nothing super important, just little things like plot or script or character development. Ya know, those old things.
OK, to be honest I may have came off a bit harsh there to start out. So maybe the rest of this review will ascend positive, unlike the film Gemini Man. This movie actually starts out solid. A good story line about an aging assassin who is about to retire. He’s been the best for years and now feels its time to move on. All the ghosts from all his kills are starting to catch up and he’d like to walk away now with his sanity in tact. Cool, kinda heard this line before but still it’s engaging and grabs your interest. Will Smith is such a movie star that we occasionally forget how good of an actor he can be. It can also get overshadowed by that charisma that he injects to his roles that we’ve become too accustomed to. These are not bad things. I smiled early on when he delivered a couple lines like only he can and it reminds you he’s been doing it since his days in Bel Air.
During Act One of this movie I was in. Sure, it could easily have been the low level expectations I approached this viewing with. That said, I was in. Smiths character, Henry Brogan has been set up and to be set up in his line of work means to get killed. It turns out the brass of the US Government has decided he and any close confidants he may have need to be eliminated due to possible information they may possess. Ask me now if they ever reveal to us just exactly what that info might be? Maybe there’s a random Russian at the end of Act Two that sort of clues us in. But its never enough for that “Oh, OK that’s why they need to die” moment.
Sadly the movie steadily declines for me in Acts two and three. Once we find out that it is a clone of Brogans that is out to kill him, the plot kinda plummets. Knowing Clive Owens character Clay Verris is the bad guy might be the worst kept secret since LeBron said he was staying in Cleveland…the second time. Insert remainder of story-line here; new assassin after old assassin, government set up/cover up, good looking female partner along for the ride and of course the chubby comic relief pal who has access to all the gadgets. The twist here is that the young assassin is a clone. It’s enough to keep you from checking your watch awaiting the ending, but that’s about it.
Alright, believe it or not that’s the good part of the review. The film isn’t horrible. It’s simply not fresh enough to be great. But here’s the rough part. Ang Lee is a very visionary style director. He has made some very good films and some other films that are simply masterpieces in visual film making. For this film her chose to shoot at such a high speed (120fps vs the standard 24fps) that it should only be shown on specific screens and in certain theaters. Did you know that? I didn’t. Had any advertising whatsoever come out stating that the special effects truly wont work unless I see it in IMAX, I would have been sure to see it in IMAX. Alas, I didn’t though. I went to a normal screening and some of the visual effects are so horrid that you will cringe and laugh at the same time. One scene in particular shows a de-aged Will Smith as his 25 years younger clone and the camera shot is straight on to his face. The best example I can use to describe what it looks like is Snapchat. Ya know when you do that merge feature of two faces and mix yours and a babies, that’s how great this image looks. Up until that point you do have to search a little bit to see the bad CGI, but it isn’t overtly in your face. It almost works.
I’m legitimately disappointing that I didn’t know Ang Lee purposefully filmed this at such a high speed and I needed to NOT view it on a regular screen. There are some actually great scenes involving motorbikes and hand to hand combat. It’s a shame they get soured by the misuse of a new age filming technique. I haven’t been taken out of a film by bad CGI like this since a mustache.
I’ll end with this. If viewing this film on my 4K TV enhances the proper viewing required; I’ll see it again. The movie is decent enough that’d I’d sit through it again just to see the effects as they are truly intended.
See this movie IN IMAX or 4K projection or even 3D as it is intended. If you view it on a standard screen you’ll be visually disappointed in this visual masterpiece.