Gemini Man Showcases New Digital Technology
November 11, 2019 | By Audrey Wang, Illustrations by Dina Kuanysheva
Disclaimer: I watched Gemini Man in only 60 frames per second. Frames per second is the amount of still images per second that, at a certain speed, look like motion. Most movies are filmed in either 24 or 30 frames per second to keep it most similar to the capabilities of the human eye. Despite being one of the film’s main claims to fame, only select theaters are actually capable of showing it in 120 frames per second. Some theaters can show it in 60, but it is hard to see it as it was really shot.
Illustrations by Dina Kuanysheva
Gemini Man has a predictable premise with an insane twist. Known as the best assassin in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Harry Brogan (Will Smith) proves his skills in the opening scene, shooting a target on a moving train a few football fields away. He decides to retire but learns that the very agency that employs him to kill terrorists has been using him to kill whomever they want. Brogan starts to sniff around, and the agency figures that the only way to keep him quiet is if he’s dead. Simple, right? They send someone after him, and that someone is him — only 30 years younger. This clone is a replica of Brogan in his 20s, thanks to new digital de-aging technology that is rapidly appearing in many films, as seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Avengers: Endgame, and in Martin Scorsese’s new upcoming film, The Irishman.
Director Ang Lee often incorporates new technological tools into his films. In Life of Pi (2012), one of his previous works that features a computer-generated tiger, Lee takes advantage of the technology and knows how to use it to bring a whole new direction to cinema. Expanding his technological feats, Lee filmed Gemini Man in 120 frames per second. With 120 frames per second, all of the extra action and movement is caught on camera. The extended frames per second make it disorienting and hyper-realistic, looking like a video game, or even a football game, with every detail of action caught on camera.
Illustrations by Dina Kuanysheva
Lee also uses de-aging technology to form one of the main characters. The young Smith actually does not look that bad compared to all the backlash from previous movies that have used this technology. Though not exactly an uncanny resemblance, there is still something to be said about the unsettling feeling of Smith acting against his younger counterpart. There is a bit of confusion as to whether he should be a father figure to Junior (Will Smith the clone), or if Brogan should not trust this evil doppelgänger. Whatever this relationship is, it is a weird dynamic that never seems to find its exact footing.
Despite this, Lee still manages to find the pulse of the story, and create a tender tale between people. Gemini Man begs the question of what would you do if you were 30 years younger, and Brogan has to confront everything he has ever — and never — done. He reflects on his regrets and dreams and encourages Junior to go for personal happiness and connection instead of the killshot. This helps him realize that it is not too late to seize the day for himself. It’s a do-over, and though the dialogue is hard to get through, there is still some sort of warmth between this found-family reunion.
Though the technological effects are notable, the script is generic with terrible dialogue. It feels like a rough draft that never got edited. The exposition is spelled out for the audience, and there are really no complex characters. However, Lee takes the stilted dialogue and generic action and brings heart and life into it through his direction. He lets subtle emotional moments breathe and gives great direction for Smith to let both of his performances gleam, bringing glimmers of complex emotions — such as love and loss — to this shallow story.