Gemini Man

Violent spy flicks have their own place in the movie spectrum. We expect a handsome hero, preferably one who can do his job with panache and some kind of supervillain to contend with. But wait, this time there is more. This time the arch-nemesis for our hero is, wait for it, himself. Evildoers in the spy agency have cloned their No. 1 hitman, secretly trained the clone and sent him to kill the cell donor. We don’t see that very often.

The acclaimed director Ang Lee oversees this lavish, fast-paced thriller. He developed his reputation with such varied films as “Brokeback Mountain,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “The Life of Pi” and “Eat Drink Man Woman.” I think some people will come to see “Gemini Man” just to see how Ang Lee deals with a “Jason Bourne” style thriller.

Will Smith plays the time expired hitman Henry Brogan. He also plays his clone, Junior, an assassin in his early 20s. Movie magic at its finest allows this. Sadly for us, the high-tech makeover has all the magic in the film.

In a thriller, we must at some point have a sense that the hero might lose. This technique is something that Skydance Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer, two of the four producers, have done often and well. Here we get a few lavish fight scenes, but we never have the least idea that the 51-year-old version of Will Smith might suffer defeat.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead tries to liven things up as the female lead but she cannot do much with the script. Benedict Wong should have had more lines. He had some good, clever moments, but too little screen time. Clive Owen well plays the bad guy, a role at this point in his career he might have to get used to.

I blame the flat production on Fosun Pictures and Alibaba Pictures, the two Chinese partners. So far most Chinese sponsored films have the same feeling of something lacking, of a story just off-kilter a little. If this does a giant box office you have a reason to think less of my thoughts.

This blockbuster movie runs for one hour and 57 minutes. It carries a mild PG-13 rating for tons of violence and some bad language. Made with a robust $138 million the film earns a decidedly lukewarm three sawblades. The cool “Make Will Smith Young Again” tech gives the film an extra half sawblade.

Fun fact: Jerry Bruckheimer and Will Smith also collaborated on: “Bad Boys,” “Enemy of the State” and “Bad Boys 2,” all successful films. Will Smith can pick his films. His net worth comes in at over $300 million. He can do voice, as he did this year, with “Aladdin” or high-dollar films like this one or even small, touching films that allow him to show his talent as an actor. And people do love him.

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