Gemini Man (film)
|Directed by||Ang Lee|
|Edited by||Tim Squyres|
|Music by||Lorne Balfe|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$173.5 million|
Gemini Man is a 2019 American action thriller film directed by Ang Lee. Starring Will Smith in the title role, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong, and written by David Benioff, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke, the film follows a retiring hitman who is targeted by a much younger clone of himself while on the run from a corrupt private military company.
Originally conceived in 1997 by screenwriter Lemke, the film spent nearly twenty years in development hell. Several directors, including Tony Scott, Curtis Hanson, and Joe Carnahan, were 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 Walt Disney Pictures and, in October 2017, Ang Lee signed on to direct for Skydance with Paramount Pictures handling distribution. Filming took place from February through May 2018.
Gemini Man was released on October 1, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on October 11, 2019, in standard 3D, Dolby Cinema (2K Dolby Vision 120 fps), 4DX, IMAX 3D, and ScreenX Formats, as well as in 120 fps HFR (high frame rate) "3D+" on select screens (including 16 Dolby Cinema and 47 IMAX 3D with Laser screens worldwide and only one TCL cinema that presented film in 3D 4K 120 fps but without HDR). No one presented the native 4K Dolby Vision 120 fps. The film on UHD Blu-ray used 59.94 fps presentation in Dolby Vision. The film received generally negative reviews from critics for its script and plot, although the performances were praised. The de-aging of Smith and the high frame-rate of 120 fps also drew a mixed response, with some critics praising them as technical achievements, while others felt they were unconvincing. It was also a box office bomb, grossing $173.5 million against its $138 million budget and resulting in Paramount losing $111 million.
Henry Brogan, a 51-year-old former Marine Scout Sniper who works as an exceptional assassin for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is sent on a mission to assassinate an anonymous bio-terrorist aboard a train in Belgium. 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 government service.
While adjusting to retirement in Buttermilk Sound, GA, Henry meets boat rental manager Danny and reconnects with an old friend, Jack, who reveals that an informant named Yuri told him that the man that Henry had killed was in fact innocent. Demanding proof, Henry has Jack arrange a meeting with Yuri. In retaliation for Henry knowing their deception, agency director Lassiter plans to kill him; Clay Varris, director of a rogue private military company codenamed "GEMINI", requests permission to eliminate him but is denied.
Realizing Danny is a fellow agent sent to monitor him, Henry befriends her. After his home is broken into by government agents, Henry calls his spotter, who is killed along with Jack and his mistress. Henry warns Danny about the attack, and they manage to kill the assassins sent after them, learning that the agency wants them both dead.
Henry and Danny escape to Colombia with Baron, a former colleague of Henry. Henry and Danny hide at Baron's home and plan to meet with Yuri for further options. Meanwhile, Clay dispatches his top assassin to kill Henry. Fighting him off, Henry realizes that the assassin bears an uncanny resemblance to himself as a young man, with a similar skill set. When the injured assassin arrives at a safe house, he is revealed to be Clay's adopted "son" Junior. Although he is curious about his similarities to Henry, Junior is ordered to finish the job.
Henry is also troubled by his similarities to the assassin, whom Danny suggests might be his child despite Henry's denials. Desperate for answers, Henry has Baron obtain a Gulfstream and transport them to Hungary. Testing DNA samples recovered from Junior, Danny discovers that his and Henry's DNA are identical – Junior is Henry's clone. Henry then meets Yuri, and learns of the cloning project and that the man he 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 to get Junior to turn away from Clay's intentions, Henry calls Lassiter, who agrees to send Junior to bring Danny safely back to the United States. Collecting Danny, Junior sets up a trap for Henry, but she warns him via a covert listening device hidden in her mouth. Ambushing the younger assassin, Henry explains to Junior that he is a clone, convincing him by revealing their similar traits that no one else could know. Escaping back to GEMINI, a heartbroken Junior confronts Clay, who claims that he must defeat Henry in order to surpass him.
Finding Henry after sneaking out of GEMINI, Junior allies with him to bring down Clay, while Henry urges Junior to quit in order to become someone better. Baron is killed in an ambush ordered by Clay, with Junior knocking Clay unconscious after a brief hand-to-hand fight.
After defeating a wave of GEMINI operatives, Henry, Danny, and Junior face another operative with special body armor who feels no pain or emotions. After shooting him repeatedly and along with several secondary explosions, they manage to mortally wound him. They remove his helmet, and he is discovered to be another youthful clone of Henry the same age as Junior, with all emotion and ability to feel pain removed. A defeated Clay tries to justify his actions to Junior: creating clones with Henry's skills would both spare the future lives of young soldiers while making operations incredibly successful. Disgusted, Junior plans to shoot Clay. Instead, Henry persuades Junior otherwise and kills Clay himself, having already lived with the heavy burden of killing.
Assured that there are no more clones that were produced and that they are finally free from harm's way, Henry later meets with Junior, who has enrolled in college under the assumed identity of "Jackson Brogan" after Henry's mother's surname. Together, Henry and Danny plan Jackson's future.
- Will Smith as Henry Brogan, a former Marine Scout Sniper who now works as an assassin for the DIA, (Defense Intelligence Agency) regarded as the best killer of his generation. Smith was one of many actors considered for the role through the lengthy development process.
- Smith also portrays Jackson Brogan (codenamed "Junior", or "Clay Varris Jr."), a cloned assassin of Henry sent after him, and "Senior", another cloned assassin sent after him. Smith was "digitally de-aged" through the use of motion capture and computer generated imagery. Actor Victor Hugo served as the on-set reference for Junior.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Danielle "Danny" Zakarewski, a Navy veteran and DIA OIG agent who helps Henry after he saves her from being assassinated. Winstead won the role over Tatiana Maslany.
- Clive Owen as Clayton "Clay" Varris, the ruthless director of GEMINI and former Force Recon Marine who creates Junior (acting as his adoptive father) to "retire" Henry and take his place.
- Benedict Wong as Baron, a former Marine colleague of Henry's and skilled pilot who works as a tour operator.
Other cast members include Ralph Brown as Del Patterson, Henry's handler at the DIA; Linda Emond as Janet Lassiter, the director of the DIA; Douglas Hodge as Jack Willis, a former Marine colleague of Henry's; Ilia Volok as Yuri Kovács, a Russian operative who has been secretly monitoring GEMINI's history; E. J. Bonilla as Marino, a DIA agent killed for his association with Henry; Igor Szász as Dr. Valery Dormov, one of the doctors who cloned Henry; Björn Freiberg as Keller, a GEMINI operative; and Justin James Boykin as Connor.
Development and pre-production
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, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Chris O'Donnell, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Jon Voight, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Gerard Butler, Nick Nolte, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery were all attached to the lead role.[verification needed] 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 was 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 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 with Guo Guangchang also on board as executive producer.
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 January 2018, Benedict Wong and Ralph Brown joined the cast and filming began in February.
Principal production commenced on February 27, 2018, in Glennville, Georgia, and included locations in 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 and were mounted on STEREOTEC 3D Rigs.
The visual effects are provided by Weta Digital and supervised by Bill Westenhofer and Guy Williams, with support from Park Road Post, Universal Production Partners (UPP), Scanline VFX, Legend3D, Inc., The Third Floor, Inc., East Side Effects, Clear Angle Studios and Stereo D.
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 in 3D, RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX 3D, IMAX, 4DX, and ScreenX Formats.
Gemini Man grossed $48.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $124.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $173.2 million. It was estimated the film needed to gross around $275 million worldwide in order to break even; Deadline Hollywood calculated its net loss to be $111.1 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.
In the United States and Canada, Gemini Man 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. In its second weekend Gemini Man fell 58.6% to $8.9 million, finishing fifth.
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 in the country). In China Gemini Man debuted to $21 million, less than expected, getting upset by fellow new release Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. After two weeks the film had a worldwide total of $118 million, including an "underwhelming" $82 million overseas.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 26% and an average rating of 4.7/10, based on 319 reviews. The website's critics 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 38 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave Gemini Man 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 Gemini Man 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 120 fps 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".
Gemini Man has been criticized for its unrealistic level of genetic determinism, and its failure to explicitly distinguish between cloning and cloning combined with genetic engineering. The film relies on the conceit that human cloning is inherently menacing, ignoring the fact that a clone would simply be a younger monozygotic ("identical") twin—with the many possible differences that exist between conventionally born identical twins.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Advanced Imaging Society Technology Awards||Oct. 28, 2019||120 fps/4K/3D Cinema Experience||Won|||
|Austin Film Critics Association||Jan. 22, 2019||Best Motion Capture/Special Effects Performance||Will Smith||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||October 26, 2021||Best Science Fiction Film Release||Nominated|||
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||December 15, 2019||Worst Film of the Year||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||January 29, 2020||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature||Bill Westenhofer, Karen Murphy-Mundell, Guy Williams, Sheldon Stopsack, Mark Hawker||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature||Paul Story, Stuart Adcock, Emiliano Padovani, Marco Revelant (for "Junior")||Nominated|
|World Stunt Awards||December 15, 2019||Best Work with a Vehicle||Stunt Team of Gemini Man||Nominated|
|Yoga Awards||2020||Worst Digital Makeup||Gemini Man||Nominated|
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- 2019: Gemini Man: The Official Movie Novelization, Titan Books, ISBN 978-1789093018
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