November 19, 2019

Gemini Man Spells Doom for the Movie Industry

“Movies like Gemini Man are usually ideal airplane viewing. Take a formulaic plot about spies and cloning, then add dialogue so predictable that getting interrupted by pilots’ announcements and turbulence and your seatmate’s need to get up and use the bathroom won’t detract from the experience. Pad it out with some lovable movie stars (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, and not one but two versions of Will Smith) and big fight scenes (in this case, something akin to pistol-whipping with a motorcycle), and bam, you’ve got a decent way to spend half your flight to Thanksgiving.

Gemini Man, directed by Oscar winner Ang Lee, fulfills every one of these requirements. He even makes sure not to trouble the viewer with any pesky existential questions — surprising, since the film is ostensibly about what makes us human. But Gemini Man is a weirdly inhuman movie (more on that in a moment), and it would make for a terrible airplane watch because it is not a movie about its story or even its action sequences. Since the movie’s whole reason for being is technical wizardry, if you were watching on the back of an airplane seat you’d just be left with a bafflingly emaciated movie about nothing. Gemini Man is a demo reel for some fancy new movie technology, an EPCOT attraction dressed up as an action flick.

Or is it just an empty-headed lights show? I’m genuinely not sure how best to think about this confounding, deeply unsatisfying movie. It’s either a crashingly dull facsimile of a shit-blows-up thriller, or maybe, just maybe, a wildly subversive comment on Hollywood’s looming dark future — a slick bit of meta-commentary on itself, Black Mirror-style.”

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