Gemini Man is a 2019 American action thriller film directed by Ang Lee and written by David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke. Starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong, the film follows a hitman who is targeted by a younger clone of himself while on the run.
Before I dive into what makes Gemini Man bad, and what it has that you need to see, let’s get the financials out of the way.
With a budget in the $150+/- million range, Gemini Man is intended to be a major release with a popular cast – led by Will Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead – in a sci-fi action genre picture that has the hallmarks of a summer popcorn flick. Instead, it wound up in October and is suffering in the wake of Joker’s blockbuster Fall performance, and taking significant hits from critics who overwhelmingly dislike the movie.
Gemini Man is headed for a likely $20+/- million domestic debut, having taken a weak $7+ million from foreign markets so far. With P&A pushing total costs north of $200 million, it needs to pass at least $400 million worldwide just to break even, and it already looks unlikely to reach that benchmark.
Gemini Man premiered at the Zurich Film Festival on October 1, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on October 11, 2019, in standard 2D as well as HFR (high frame rate) IMAX 3D+ on select screens. The film received generally negative reviews from critics, who complimented the visual effects and performances but lamented the script and plot, while the de-aging of Smith and the high frame-rate drew a mixed response.
Unlike Ang Lee’s hometown masterpiece Yin shi nan nu (1994), I had little to no expectations of this film bringing any substance to the table. The trailer did not sell it well. The clone concept has been done multiple times over (pun intended). Even Arnie’s The 6th Day (2000) had a plot more original than this.
There is some good to take out of this film though, we get to experience amazing Next Level use of 3D Technology featuring HFR (High Frame Rate). There are honest moments of “Whoa” and “That was cool”. However, this wasn’t enough of a distraction from the awful script. It was as if the technical crew just wanted to play with their toys as soon as an opportunity presented itself (cough, Jerry Bruckheimer, cough).
Will Smith’s box office and critical track record over the past decade has had some ups and downs, but he remains one of the few true movie stars of the modern age who is capable of opening films on his personal brand.
This year’s Aladdin was a $1+ billion grosser and beloved by most audiences despite mixed reviews, and his 2017 Netflix movie Bright is among the streaming service’s most-watched offerings of all time, even though critics definitely didn’t like that one. In 2016, Smith’s film Collateral Beauty did a modest $88 million despite horrible reviews, while Suicide Squad was a huge hit to the tune of $746 million in the face of negative critical reception. The excellent 2015 release Concussion only took $48 million and faced mixed reviews, unfortunately, but the same year Smith had more financial success – but still mixed critical reactions – alongside Margot Robbie in the $159 million grossing Focus. And 2013 saw two big sci-fi would-be blockbusters from Smith, with the critically panned After Earth scoring $243 million and Men In Black III taking a terrific $624 million as well as positive reviews.
On that note, I can see this technology being used in a more balance collaboration that will surely pay off down the track. Until then, maybe check this film out if you are looking for a preview of what could be.