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Gemini Man Review

Gemini Man
Punarvasu Pendse /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
Gemini Man should really have come with an introduction. To fully experience it, you need to understand what director Ang Lee is trying to showcase, first.

Ang Lee certainly needs no introduction, but his last project does, perhaps. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk was an expensive dud, but the thing to take here was that it was shot at 120 frames per second (fps), which made it feel jittery and artificially smoothened for a lot of the audience. Lee is back with the same camera, and Gemini Man has also been filmed in 3D at 4K 120 fps - but technology has progressed in the past three years and the director thinks that the world should be able to see his movie the way he envisioned it. Only, the issue with this is that there aren't many cinemas in the entire world that can manage those technical specs, so Lee's is somewhat of a pipe dream.

Gemini Man is a fairly straightforward thriller. Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an ageing assassin, supposed to be the best in his field, who wants to retire. The shadowy government agency that he works for is not convinced, and has him tailed by Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) - pretty standard procedure for them, until it sends agents out to eliminate Brogan and everyone related to him. Enlisting the help of his pilot friend the "Baron" (Benedict Wong), Henry and Danny escape after an attempt is made on their lives.

Suddenly, it isn't an idyllic retirement for our hitman, and the stakes are about to be raised after a young assassin who has mannerisms eerily similar to those of Brogan himself is sent in to eliminate him by Clay Varris (Clive Owen). Varris had himself trained Brogan in the past, and is now the director of a private army that works with Brogan's ex-agency (which for some weird reason is called the DIA, and not the CIA). It turns out that Junior, the guy sent to kill Brogan, is his own younger self cloned, and we have fireworks.

Gemini Man requires the viewer to lean in, and hard. The plot is paper thin, and almost every twist can be anticipated well in advance, but it is fun in a sort of campy way. A healthy dose of suspension of disbelief and giving in to Will Smith's charms can make it a fun viewing experience. And there's honestly not much to write about the plot here, despite the film being written by an eclectic mix of writers: David Benioff - Game of Thrones, Billy Ray - Hunger Games, Darren Lemko - Shazam!.

Most of the good news is in the performances. Will Smith is showing his age, but is still plenty of fun to watch. The technology that was used to make him look younger is remarkably convincing - but his "younger" face is sharp and chiseled (which probably is good for his confidence, and it certainly looks more regal). Mary Elizabeth Winstead is great - she gets a fair bit of the action scenes and no forced romances, which are a definite win. Benedict Wong injects a dash of humour into every scene he is in, and is wonderful in general. Clive Owen is the exception - he seems to make the same grim, ugly face in most shots, and hardly feels like a noteworthy villain.

The music makes you feel the pace of the movie, but rarely makes you feel pumped up. All said, an average score.

The technical aspects of the movie are what are most worth talking about. The film is meant to be seen in 4k 120 fps, which is pretty much impossible in India, but we had the good fortune of being able to watch it in Imax. Mind you, there isn't a true Imax experience in India at the moment - all we have is digital Imax projection, but even that would arguably be a huge difference. I think we watched it at 60 fps, which is still pretty zappy for us viewers that are used to a "cinematic" 24 fps. The action scenes are fun, and the bike shootout and its first person treatment really make you feel like you're inside a video game.

High refresh rate cinema is an extremely polarising issue. On one hand are most people who feel it is disorienting and that the pace feels over-engineered. On the other are people like myself who enjoy it. Without wanting to sound pretentious, a little about yours truly - I play a variety of video games, and happen to own a computer that can run every most of them at 1,440 p 120 fps (which albeit not being 4K, is a higher resolution than the "2K" that 14 premium American theatres could cast).

The point is that you would perhaps be better off watching this visually heavy movie on the smaller screen. Specifically, a 4K high-refresh-rate panel, which I suspect would considerably dwindle most people's options. Maybe catch it at Prasads, which might give you a decent experience, or start finding gamer friends before it releases on the smaller screen.

Or, just give it a miss. I got my Fresh Prince, my tech fix, and my gaming gear. If none of that matters to you, might as well avoid the rains this weekend and curl up with a hot drink, and finish that book you were reading or catch up on that show you wanted to binge.
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Gemini Man (english) reviews
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
Josh on 12th Oct 2019, 5:36pm | Permalink
I didn't know about this 120fps stuff. I guess I have to find a gamer friend now.

Btw, what book are you reading and what series are you binging?
Punarvasu Pendse on 12th Oct 2019, 8:10pm | Permalink
I don't read as many books as I should be reading, these days. Currently fascinated with Kasparov's Deep Thinking, where he talks about his experience after losing to the supercomputer Deep Blue, and past and future of artificial intelligence - how he thinks the future of mankind is going to be deeply intertwined with AI.

Not much of a binge watcher, just started Good Omens on Prime. It also happens to be one of my favourite books, and has Jack Whitehall - easy recommend.
Josh on 12th Oct 2019, 9:46pm | Permalink
I'm currently stuck with two heavy tomes. So I'm trying to find light reads and preferably mysteries. I read Malice by Keigo Higashino. I only got to know of him because his Devotion of Suspect X was the basis of Jeethu Joseph's Drushyam and also the Tamil film Kolaigaaran.

Kindly tell me if you know of any such light but juicy mysteries, man.

I love Good Omens, the book. However, the show fizzled off after two episodes. I should catch up again, I guess.

While we are at it, tell me something you really appreciated in Deep Thinking.
Punarvasu Pendse on 14th Oct 2019, 11:58pm | Permalink
Couldn't reply to that comment for some reason, writing here instead.

I think humans will always have work to do, because computers are not going to feel emotion, or be able to think up of the completely new things from scratch. They will always need a set of instructions that enables them to create anything - be it art, maths, or code.

And if at some point there does come a time when computers/AI do learn to feel emotion, and emulate everything that humans are able to do - I, for one, welcome our AI overlords.
Josh on 16th Oct 2019, 7:02am | Permalink
Yeah, the indentation doesn't allow for indefinite number of comment layers.

Humans will always have work to do. But not enough for the seven and half billion that hang around nowadays, and certainly not enough for the thirteen billion which is projected as the stable population in future.

Just as a kitchen knife can be used to cut veggies and also to stab people, AI's final value lies entirely in the hands of the humans who make and own it. It's these wielders of the tool that I don't trust.

Enough gloomy talk for now, I suppose. My cousin is getting himself a "lightweight" gaming laptop. I know where I'm watching Gemini Man :)
Punarvasu Pendse on 13th Oct 2019, 9:16pm | Permalink
Garry talks about how losing to a supercomputer made him wonder if humans had reached their peak, and how he felt like it was the end of the road. It made him look into AI, and further education completely changed his point of view - he felt like it was just the beginning for humanity!

'twas a cool moment.
Josh on 14th Oct 2019, 11:35pm | Permalink
That is true, man. AI is a new beginning for humanity. But I worry about the replacement of human labour.

One junior of mine tells me about this company who are trying to make AI which will write scripts! That sort of thing riles me up. What's the point of delegating creativity? Why even be human?
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