Gemini Man: Everyone Deserves a Second Chance
We all deserve a second chance to be greater than versions of ourselves.
By Jon Ochiai
In “Gemini Man” war-weary Will Smith’s retired Master Assassin Henry Brogan battles the younger version of himself, Junior, played by CGI-ed Will, who’s, in fact, his clone.
I’ve trained in Aikido for many years. O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba said, “True victory is victory over oneself.” Director Ang Lee literally and ambitiously navigates O-Sensei’s Mastery journey in unexpected resolve. The distinct upsides: The entertaining screenplay by David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke and the strong compelling Will Smith on both sides of this existential conflict. Amen.
As “Gemini Man” opens Will’s Henry takes aim at his ‘final’ target from 2000 meters out. Henry is the operative for the DIA, a covert US Government Agency sanctioned to terminate terrorist threats. In theory, Henry takes out only bad guys with his sniper rifle or martial arts training. So basically, 51-year-old Henry is a walking weapon, who’s sacrificed having a life, dedicated to serving his country. But is his retirement mission a set-up, a betrayal?
Although David, Billy and Darren’s narrative premise is needlessly convoluted, we get that Henry is a good man, who’s suffered because of his mastery. He wants out. Henry confesses to DIA’s Del, “My soul hurts… I want to find peace.” Henry’s haunted by the ‘ghosts’ of his targets. Will’s authentic remorseful tears land.
Ang Lee’s conspiracy narrative unveils as obsessed Clay Verris, played with duplicitous zeal by Clive Owen, emerges with his proposal to DIA Director Janet Lassiter, played by malleable Linda Emond. Clay operates the clandestine Gemini Project. He wants to use his asset to terminate Henry, who’s become a circumstantial liability. He sends his charge Junior, also played by Will, to kill Henry. By design, Junior is Henry’s younger version sans his past, without his suffering and pain. Thus, superior.
Ang nuances “Gemini Man”’s ambitious narrative premise: What makes a Good Man? In a flashback, Henry recalls his Dad, played by Diego Adonye, nearly drowning him as a boy to make him strong. Wise foreshadowing. Yet, Ang’s storytelling bewilders…