4K Blu-ray/DVD review: “Gemini Man” (2019)

“Gemini Man” (2019)

Science Fiction/Action

Running time: 117 minutes

Written by: David Benioff, Billy Ray & Darren Lemke

Directed by: Ang Lee

Featuring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong

Henry: [referring to Junior] “When I saw him, it was like I was seeing a ghost. Like every trigger I’ve ever pulled.”

Critical Review

Recently released on 4K blu-ray and DVD is the latest Will Smith potential blockbuster “Gemini Man” (2019) which was released last year and quickly disappeared with little or no fanfare which was a real shame for a projects that had been around for a few decades under not only different directors but a few high profile leading men. Somehow a studio thought that Ang Lee as director and Will Smith as the leading man would be the way to go, apparently audiences felt different with a budget of at least US$140 million while globally only making a fairly paltry US$160 million which is not a success in anyones book. “Gemini Man” central idea and gimmick is the idea of cloning, meeting the clone of oneself whilst merging that with a thriller which should have embraced the absurdity of that in a way that makes a comedy like “Multiplicity” (1996) fun. However what audiences get is a movie that is so po-faced that it embraces the banal of what these movies used to be, in fact “Gemini Man” feels like an action movie from the 1990s that looks great but feels like a retread, not a homage but a formula that has outstayed its welcome on many levels.

There is no doubt in my mind that the idea of this movie is a very good one, pitting a younger copy, in this case a clone, against the original older version, in this case Will Smith who has proven a variety of things over his career, that he can legitimately carry off action believably on-screen, that he can act opposite large scale special effects and that he can open a movie, something he did earlier in 2019 with the Disney animated adaption into love action “Aladdin” (2019). So far so good, then surround Smith with a very good supporting cast in Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong who all do their job well. Where this movie falls completely flat is not only the structure of the narrative but the pedestrian plot that serves no real purpose other than to frame the cloning maguffin as well as the technical achievements which for my mind have been concentrated on far too much especially the increased frame rate which was proved to be a non factor in terms of audience with the failed Peter Jackson ‘Hobbit’ (2012-2014) franchise.

“Gemini Man” is based around Henry Brogan, an aging former Marine Scout Sniper who now works as an assassin for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), disillusioned with killing, Henry retires from government service. While adjusting to retirement, Henry reconnects with an old friend, Jack, who reveals that an informant named Yuri told him that the man Henry killed was innocent. In retaliation for Henry knowing their deception, agency director Lassiter plans to kill him; Clay Varris, head of a top-secret black ops unit codenamed “GEMINI”. 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. When the injured assassin arrives at a safehouse, he is revealed to be Clay’s adopted “son” Junior. Although he is curious about his similarities to Henry.

I have to be honest but I would not have immediately associated Ang Lee with this movie, one is a thoughtful, artful and original director who has proven over the past four decades that he is one of the greatest non-American directors in history. Lee’s ability to not only tell stories over a variety of cultures while keeping them personal is one of his strengths, which he has used to not only deliver films that are critical hits but are big box office. However in recent times Lee has mis-stepped with three high profile projects in “Hulk” (2003), “Billy Lynns Long Halftime Walks” (2016) and now “Gemini Man”. What all these three movies have in common are challenging effects or cutting edge technologies that have taken centre stage instead of the narrative or plot which are the weaknesses in all three movies which reflects negatively not only on Lee but the screenwriters on each of these movies.

In terms of the actors there is no doubt that they have all taken their jobs seriously even with the ludicrous situations and dialogue which is not the greatest, odd considering the names on the script. Smith is as ever excellent but for my mind the movie comes alive when Benedict Wong enters the picture as Smith’s longtime friend, I was immediately interested when he turned up and lost interest when he exited, something that should have been noticed so to expand his part. As mush as I enjoy Mary Elizabeth Winstead it is obvious her part was invented to lend some femininity to the movie which is full of testosterone, window dressing is never a good look whenever it used no matter if it is a feminine, race or other aspect.

Its not all bad news as you will see it is a technically excellent movie that looks great, it also moves along at a breakneck speed which is no knock, it is let down by plot holes, inconsistent character behaviour and a complete lack of reality.

Technical Commentary

Paramount releases “Gemini Man” to 4K UHD in a two-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray. Housed in a standard sturdy black two-disc case with identical slipcover artwork, the discs loads to animated main menus with traditional navigation options.

Video Review

The picture presented on this 4K disc is exceptional, it is a native 4K 2160p 60fps with Dolby Vision HDR. When “Gemini Man” is at its best, it’s bringing to the screen some of the most vivid and true-to-life hyper-realistic imagery you can expect to see. There are so many glorious moments where you feel like you could reach into the screen be in the same room with these actors. The amount of detail is staggering being able to see the smallest fine facial feature to the individual stitches in clothing.

Dolby Vision HDR kicks up the impressive imagery and with the combination of HFR, it easily surpasses the standard 1080p presentation. So on top of lifelike details and images, the lifelike colors explode on the screen. Vivid and rich primaries in addition to natural skin tones plus the added benefits of deep inky black levels and crisp whites create such a beautiful effect. When this film is at its best it’s like watching a live-to-air nature documentary. 

However, 60fps HFR and Dolby Vision HDR highlight some of the notable CGI flaws of the production. Where HFR and Dolby Vision actually helped the CGI was in the aging effects for the younger Will Smith character Junior.

Audio Review

“Gemini Man” is given an engaging and intense Dolby Atmos audio mix to turn up and blast out your sound system. It’s mixed perfectly giving you pinpoint object placement across vertical and surround channels and is a real treat during the action sequences as bullets pop and zip throughout the soundscape! Dialog is on point giving each actor their due without any interference from outside elements. While the dialog keeps to the front and center background audio round out the channels. 

Special Features

Gemini Man comes loaded with about an hour of bonus content that is actually genuinely decent informative stuff. The alternate opening is a cool juxtaposition showcasing their assassination abilities. Beyond that, we get what amounts to some typical EPK material with some solid looks behind the scenes in how they pulled off various aspects of the film. 

  • Exclusive VFX Breakdown in 60fps (UHD 3:02)
  • Alternate Opening (HD 5:50)
  • Deleted Scene (HD 3:55)
  • The Genesis of Gemini Man (HD 2:54)
  • Facing Your Younger Self (HD 5:41)
  • The Future is Now  (HD 18:33)
  • Setting the Action (HD 15:46)
  • Next Level Detail (HD 3:46)
  • The Vision of Ang Lee (HD 5:26)

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