Gemini Man (film)
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 from the government.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ang Lee|
|Music by||Lorne Balfe|
|Edited by||Tim Squyres|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$59.6 million|
Originally conceived in 1997, the film went through development hell for nearly 20 years. Several directors, including Tony Scott, Curtis Hanson and Joe Carnahan, were all attached at some point and numerous actors, including Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Sean Connery, were set to star. In 2016, Skydance Media purchased the rights to the screenplay (which had been through several rewrites) from Disney and in October 2017, Ang Lee signed on to direct for Skydance with Paramount handling the distribution rights. Filming took place from February through May 2018.
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, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX as well as in HFR (high frame rate) "3D+" on select screens (including 16 Dolby Cinema and 47 IMAX with Laser screens worldwide). The film received generally negative reviews from critics, who complimented the performances, but lamented the script and plot, while the de-aging of Smith and the high frame-rate of 120 fps drew a mixed response.
Henry Brogan, an aging government assassin, is sent on a mission to assassinate an anonymous terrorist aboard a bullet train. During the mission, Henry's spotter warns him of a young girl approaching the target, causing Henry to delay his shot until the last second, shooting the man in the neck despite aiming for his head. Disillusioned with killing, Henry retires from his career.
While settling down with his retirement, Henry meets boat rental manager Dani and reconnects with an old friend, who reveals that an informant named Yuri told him that the man Henry killed was innocent; demanding proof, Henry has his friend arrange a meeting with Yuri. In retaliation for Henry knowing their deception, his former agency plans to kill him while Clay Varris, head of a top-secret black ops unit codenamed "GEMINI", wants to go after Henry but is denied the request.
Realizing Dani is a fellow agent, Henry befriends her. After his home is broken into by government agents, Henry calls his spotter, who is killed along with Henry's friend. Henry warns Dani about the attack and they manage to kill the assassins sent after them, learning the agency wants them dead.
Escaping east, Henry and Dani go abroad to the home of Henry’s former colleague Baron, and plan to meet with Yuri for further options. Meanwhile, Clay dispatches his top assassin to kill Henry. Fighting him off, Henry realizes the assassin bears an uncanny resemblance to himself as a young man, with a similar skill set.
After a motorbike chase, Henry is outmatched and almost killed by the faster and more ferocious operative, until authorities arrive on the scene and the younger assassin flees. When the assassin arrives at a safehouse, he is revealed to be Clay's adopted "son" Junior. Curious about his similarities to Henry, Junior is ordered to finish the job.
Henry is also troubled by his similarities to the assassin, whom Dani suggests might be his child, though Henry claims he isn’t married. Testing DNA samples recovered from Junior, Dani discovers that his and Henry's DNA are identical – Junior is Henry’s younger clone. Desperate for answers, Henry meets Yuri, who informs him of the cloning project and that the man Henry killed was one of the project’s scientists. Having designed a method to produce clones devoid of pain or emotion, the scientist tried to leave the project and was killed upon being discovered.
To try and get Junior to turn away from Clay's intentions, Henry calls the head of his former agency, who agrees to send Junior to bring Dani safely back to the United States. Collecting Dani, Junior sets up a trap for Henry, but Dani warns Henry via a covert listening device in her mouth. Ambushing the younger assassin, Henry explains to Junior that he is a clone, convincing him by revealing their similar secret traits no one else could know. Escaping back to GEMINI, a heartbroken Junior confronts Clay, who claims that he is better than Henry and is still his son.
Finding Henry after sneaking out of GEMINI, Junior allies with him to bring down Clay with Henry urging Junior to quit in order to become someone better. Baron is killed in a ambush ordered by Clay with Junior knocking Clay unconscious after a brief hand to hand fight.
After defeating a wave of GEMINI operatives, Henry, Dani, and Junior face another clone who feels no pain or emotions, managing to kill him. A defeated Clay tries to justify his actions towards Junior, who almost shoots him, but Henry persuades Junior otherwise, and instead, he kills Clay himself, having already lived with the heavy burden.
Ensuring there are no more clones produced and that they are finally free from harms way, Henry later meets with Junior, who has enrolled into college under a new identity. Junior has taken the name "Jackson Brogan" after Henry's surname, with him, Henry, and Dani planning Jackson's future.
- Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an aging government assassin with the Department of International Intelligence (DIA), regarded as the best killer of his generation.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dani Zakarweski, a DIA agent and ally of Henry who remains loyal to him after he is targeted for death.
- Clive Owen as Clayton "Clay" Varris, the ruthless director of GEMINI who creates Junior to "retire" Henry and take his place.
- Benedict Wong as Baron, a colleague of Henry and Dani.
- Ralph Brown as Del Patterson, Henry's handler at the DIA.
- Linda Emond as Janet Lassiter, the director of the DIA.
- Theodora Miranne as Kitty
- Douglas Hodge as Jack Willis, an old Marine Corps colleague of Henry's.
- Ilia Volok as Yuri Kovacs
- E. J. Bonilla as Marino, a DIA ally of Henry's.
- Björn Freiberg as Keller
Gemini Man, based on a concept by Darren Lemke, was originally sold to be produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures with Don Murphy to produce and Tony Scott to direct in 1997. Scott, Curtis Hanson, and Joe Carnahan had previously been attached to direct the film. At the time, Disney's now-defunct animation/visual effects department The Secret Lab developed a test short, known as Human Face Project, to create visual effects for the film, which would involve creating a younger CG clone of the main actor. Harrison Ford, Chris O'Donnell, Mel Gibson, Jon Voight, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery were all attached to the lead role. The film never progressed at Disney, though, as the technology was not developed enough at that time for the film to be produced.
Lemke's screenplay has since been rewritten by Billy Ray, Andrew Niccol, David Benioff, Brian Helgeland, Jonathan Hensleigh, and the writing team of Stephen J. Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson.
In 2016, Skydance Media acquired the film from Disney, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing, along with Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger. Murphy, Mike Stenson, Chad Oman and Brian Bell and Fosun's Guo Guangchang would serve as executive producers. Ang Lee was hired to direct the film for Paramount Pictures and Skydance in April 2017 and Fosun Pictures came on board to finance soon after.
Will Smith was cast in the lead role, and a release date set for October 11, 2019. In January 2018, Clive Owen and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were cast in the film, with Winstead winning the role over Tatiana Maslany. In February 2018, Benedict Wong joined the cast as filming began.
Principal production commenced on February 27, 2018, in Glennville, Georgia, and included locations in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. Filming continued in May 2018 at Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest, Hungary. Like Lee's previous film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, the film was shot digitally at an extra-high frame rate of 120 fps, modified for 3D, this time, on modified ARRI Alexa cameras mounted on STEREOTEC 3D Rigs.
Gemini Man was released in the United States on October 11, 2019 by Paramount Pictures. It was originally scheduled to be released on October 4, but Paramount pushed the film back for release a week later. It premiered at the Zurich Film Festival on October 1, 2019.
As of October 13, 2019[update], Gemini Man has grossed $20.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $39 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $59.5 million. It is estimated the film will need to gross around $275 million worldwide in order to break even.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside The Addams Family and Jexi, and was originally projected to gross $24–29 million from 3,642 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $7.5 million on its first day, including $1.6 million from Thursday night previews, lowering weekend estimates to $20 million. It went on to debut to $20.5 million, finishing third at the box office. The low opening was blamed on poor critical response, the familiar premise and the over-performance of Joker. Following its opening weekend, Deadline Hollywood estimated the film would lose the studio $60 million.
The film opened in five countries the week prior to its U.S. release and made $7 million, finishing first in each market: France ($3 million), Germany ($3 million) Switzerland ($434,000), Austria ($262,000) and Israel ($259,000, Lee's best opener ever in the country).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 25% and an average rating of 4.62/10, based on 214 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Gemini Man's impressive visuals are supported by some strong performances, but this sci-fi thriller is fatally undermined by a frustratingly subpar story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Variety's Peter DeBruge called the film "a high-concept misfire" and wrote: "In practice, it's been a nearly impossible project to get made, passing through the hands of countless actors and falling through multiple times because the technology wasn't there yet. At least, that's been the excuse, although judging by the finished product, it was the script that never lived up to the promise of its premise." Ella Kemp of IndieWire gave the film a "C+", writing that "For Lee, it seems to make sense – the film welds concerns that have colored a number of his projects: the debate of Nature v Nurture; the alienation of a fraying man; the challenge of what digital filmmaking can do. On paper, Gemini Man tends to all three concerns, but in practice the film is impenetrable beyond its technological clout."
Giving the film one star, Kevin Maher of The Times was unimpressed with the script and the 120fps shooting, writing "It keeps every detail in the frame (background and foreground) in vivid, garish focus at all times. Besides being aesthetically repellent (it's like 1980s children's telly or the worst wedding video yet)" and called the de-aging "alarmingly unconvincing".
- Replicant, a film with a similar premise
- Looper, a film with a similar premise, albeit involving time travel
- Star Trek: Nemesis, which also features a younger clone of the hero as an antagonist
- Metal Gear, a video game series with a similar premise
- Woken Furies, a novel from Richard K. Morgan, which features a younger copy of the main character hunting him as hitman
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