Two Will Smiths for the price of one. That’s what you get when you buy a ticket to see his latest film, Gemini Man. Sure, it’s not the typical BOGOF offer, but at least you're getting your money's worth, right? Be warned: the sense of financial regret that you try to squash with this assurance may double by the time you exit the cinema.
Let’s be clear, Gemini Man is not a terrible film, but it's the kind of film that would probably be better received on flight than in 3-D at your local iMax. It follows a retired assassin, Henry, as he runs away from a younger clone of himself, Junior, who has been sent to kill him by the government he used to work for. Its premise alone is so ridiculous that it keeps you engaged without much effort. It’s just one of those films in which shots get fired, things go bang, and then the bad guy dies.
The reason that we’re supposed to be interested in Gemini Man more than any other recent action film is the CGI technology that gave us the BOGOF Will Smith deal in the first place. It’s hyper-realistic and seeing Fresh Prince-era Smith all new and, well, fresh again is hyper-eerie. You'll spend most of the film trying to work out whether you can notice the CGI or not, which we suppose means that you won't be able to without intense scrutiny. In fact, we'd go as far to say that Will Smith’s performance as his younger self, Junior, is superior to his role as Henry. This might be a consequence of the slightly meatier material he had to work with – Junior, after all, has to find out that he’s a clone and his entire life has been a lie – but one has to wonder whether his emotional breakdowns would have been quite as rousing were they performed sans CGI.
Elsewhere, the rest of the cast’s performances feel noticeably flat: when it’s revealed that Henry has a clone, his sidekicks Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Baron (Benedict Wong) wear the faces of people who have just read the script and are only half pretending that it’s news hot off the press. But you can’t really blame them. Unless you've stumbled into the wrong screening room, you will already know that Henry’s secret assassin is his clone. It’s the entire film’s sell. You spend the first half of Gemini Man waiting for the penny to drop, but when it does, it barely makes a dent on Henry and his mates. They may as well have responded to the revelation by shrugging and saying, "OK, cool. What's next?"
Still, it’s two Will Smiths for the price of one! And there’s explosions! And there’s... well, there’s really not much else to it. Gemini Man tries to be deep – you know, Henry must literally confront himself to overcome his demons – but it works best when it relaxes into the special genre of agreeable-but-unexceptional action films that it falls into. The closing banter between Henry and Junior once they’ve stopped fighting each other, for instance, feels much more enjoyable to watch than their individual soul searching. And the action sequences that aren’t weighed down by their emotional baggage somehow feel more spectacular than those in which they’re wrestling with themselves.
As BOGOF deals go, watching Gemini Man is certainly more thrilling than doubling up on loo roll during your weekly shop, but if you really want to spend your money wisely, just wait for it to come out on streaming. Spend the cash you save on the loo roll – at least that's something you'll actually need.