'Gemini Man' Is Double Trouble

As he travels to South America and eastern Europe in search of answers, Henry notices he's being tracked by a hitman so good he always seems to be one step ahead. And when Henry finally corners and confronts the man, he's shocked to discover that the assassin looks exactly like he did - 30 years ago.

How can this be? It's cloning, folks, the work of a sinister government agent called Clay Varris (Clive Owen), who some years ago began overseeing a secret programme aiming to raise a conscienceless army of super-assassins who would tour the world mopping up America's long list of enemies.

As Henry Brogan was their best assassin by far, his DNA was robbed to cook up Junior, Henry's pursuer, a young man who knows a great deal about killing, but not too much about anything else.

If all of this sounds a bit 1990s, it seems even more so on a screen. Though Ang Lee directs, he's unable to blend a slender story and frantic CGI trickery into anything resembling a coherent film. The best 90s action and sci-fi blockbusters used humour to make themselves more digestible, but Gemini Man is curiously po-faced, its rare attempts at mirth clumsy and telegraphed.

A great deal of time and effort has clearly gone into the film's technical aspects: it was shot at the extra high rate of 120 frames-per-second, which apparently helps with 3D and does create remarkable clarity at times, though with a corresponding deadening effect.

Nothing deader than the eyes of the de-aged Smith, who looks confused even when he's supposed to know what he's talking about. Which is not to be glib about this technically remarkable process, which will shortly be seen at greater length in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, and of which I'd happily avail.

It does look convincing, though not when you get too close and the human face is seen to lack a certain elasticity. This film lacks elasticity in spades, and is not best served by a curiously robotic turn from Smith. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is too good an actor for this kind of stuff - let's hope she was well paid.

And Clive Owen, who has come to specialise in playing oily villains of late, does so without apparent relish - no Rickmanesque ho-ho-ho's for him. Then again, perhaps it was hard to get excited about this creaky vehicle that might be technically futuristic but is deeply retro in all other respects. If I'd picked Gemini Man up in a video store in the late 90s I wouldn't have asked for my money back, but in a cinema, now?

Films coming soon...

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning); Official Secrets (Keira Knightly, Ralph Fiennes); Zombieland: Double Tap (Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg); Dark Lies The Island (Pat Shortt, Charlie Murphy).

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