Warning! Spoiler Alert: Gemini Man 2019 Review

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The Science of the Soldier

Movie technology, aging actors, astounding graphics, and convoluted plot devices all merge into this very “meh” movie starring Will Smith known as “The Gemini Man”.  There will be some minor spoilers but it may not be much considering the trailer itself is basically the movie minus a few plot building points. But you’ve been warned, spoiler alert.

What this movie does to help in terms of dialogue is the issue of life, if one thinks about it long enough.

People get old. So what happens when the military, government, and science all play God? This is the question that director Ang Lee poses with this movie that was untouched for decades, apparently. The story goes like this: super star soldier Henry Brogan opts to retire due to old age and a decorated kill count as a military grade assassin. But his retirement is cut short as he is hunted by the very organization/government he served for years.

They send a clone of him to do it which has all of his strengths and none of his current weaknesses, namely old age and, as the movie posits, a conscience. The clone doesn’t have any of that. But it begs the question of humanity, and can certain principles such as morality or conscience be engineered out to create a fearless, emotionless super soldier?  

That trope has been the question for ages and the subject of many a movie, TV show, anime, and science fiction book. Where does the soldier begin and the human end? This movie aimed to answer that question, and posed the moral quandary of using human clones, as well as “Do clones have souls?”  Are they worth the dignity of human life, or can these clones which resemble a person have the means to be simple tools for a military purpose (or any other purpose for that matter)? It does beg the question and is something worth thinking about.

Will Smith x2 Still Can Not Save This

Paint him blue and animate him and it still can’t save the movie. Scan his face using high grade tech and plaster it on a young, more agile body and the movie still falls short of anything grand. It was an oddity for sure. The cloned Will Smith character had this odd characteristic about him that didn’t quite cross the threshold of the uncanny valley. 

The Uncanny Valley is the idea that certain subjects such as robots, video game characters, and even movie characters can look so human or appear so humanoid that there is an uneasiness to seeing it. The Henry Brogan clone was rendered a 20-something in order to compete with the 50 year old Brogan, so it was basically trying to make Will Smith look the way he did during his Fresh Prince years. There definitely was something off about the digitized Will Smith face that left you feeling more disappointed than uneasy. 

You obviously could tell because certain parts of the movie, the clone’s rendering didn’t seem to be as complete, and various parts of the face looked as though it wasn’t in sync with the rest of the movie. Aside from the plot devices, which were obviously placed to push the narrative along, there was a convoluted story behind it which attempted to pose that moral quandary of “do clones have souls?” It does a decent job of asking the question but it gets lost in the midst of the gunfights, fistfights, and the fizzling humor attempts Will Smith tries to inject into the movie. 

Final Result: Meh

Despite Ang Lee’s reputation for creating emotionally charged films, a crying clone facing an identity crisis and Will Smith coming to grips with his demons, it isn’t a bad movie. It is not a blockbuster movie either, and with the domestic market, topping off the movie at $36,326,621 with over $60 million worldwide makes this a lackluster flick at best. A big “meh” as it were.

Again, it isn’t a bad movie; the Rotten Tomatoes audience score rates this at an 84% even after it being out for two weeks. However, it is not one of those movies you drop everything to go see, like some recent ones (such as Endgame or even the Joker). Even when Lee filmed this with a High Frame Rate camera, there seemed to be this “flimsy” air about it that shows that they’re trying too hard; sticking a big name like Will Smith does not help it.

Gemini Man: Why This Movie Could Matter

The notion that this movie could spur in the conversation in the culture depends solely on how we view clones. Do they have souls? Regardless of how they might look to you and I, are they actual people? Do they pass as what Christian theologians call Image Bearers of God? Do they have intrinsic value as humans as they are by very definition, cloned individuals with the same DNA strands?

It also poses a very real question between nature and nurture. As Ang Lee states, it’s all about nurture and the environment; the cloned Henry Brogan grew up in a militaristic setting with only the love of “father,” who did nothing but train him to be an assassin due to the genetic makeup of the real Henry Brogan. But what about the conscience of a clone? Does it exist? One could extrapolate that if clones have souls worth saving and not using, what about human babies?

These are, in fact, not clones but completely different individuals with a genetic code far different from that of the parents. What this movie does to help in terms of dialogue is the issue of life, if one thinks about it long enough. Clones are simply copies of people. Human babies incubated in a female womb are not a copy, but a very real piece of genetic information that is very different from mom and dad. Are they worth saving?