Will Smith Battles His Younger Self in Gemini Man
Gemini Man is a pretty big deal. Firstly, the film has been in development for nearly 20 years, it was first conceived in 1997 but it went through what they call development hell for almost two decades. Throughout the film’s development, many directors and stars like Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone were attached to the grand project.
But finally in 2017, famed director Ang Lee who directed the award-winning Life of Pi signed up to helm this film. Filming then began last year from February to May.
Now we have Ang Lee who sits in the director’s seat and blockbuster star Will Smith who in the movie stars opposite his younger self. Two versions of Will Smith? It gets better, if you’re a fan of Smith (who isn’t?).
Anyway, the action thriller film follows a special ops sharp-shooter and government assassin, Henry Brogan (Will Smith) who is ready to leave his career for retirement.
But his plans to live a quiet life in his home in Georgia is doesn’t fall into place quite easily. Upon finding out that his last hit was someone innocent, Henry tried to figure out why he was misled to shoot the man, and if this has happened more than once. This eventually leads to him becoming a target. An assassin is sent out to wipe out Henry by a unit called Gemini, and this is when he finds out he is fighting against a younger, fitter version of himself called Junior.
It turns out, Gemini had cloned Henry years ago. Junior was raised by the company’s director Clayton Varris (played by Clive Owen) to become the best soldier, just like Henry.
In the movie, Henry is positioned as the best soldier in the world, and Smith does a great job in carrying the weight of his massive role.
Beyond the impressive action sequences (Smith who is 51 can really bust some moves!) one can’t help but wonder how the filmmakers created a younger version of Smith and have them pit against each other on screen? It’s called de-ageing.
The de-ageing effects were handled by Weta Studios, the same company that worked on films like Lord of The Rings. Based on inews.co.uk, Ang Lee chose to shoot Gemini Man at an incredibly high-resolution frame rate, but it also required a brand new technique to go along with it. In other words, it required building an entire digital copy of Will Smith’s younger form.
“First, Weta performed a detailed scan of Smith’s face as he contorted it into every imaginable expression, producing a full digital copy. This was then added to a motion-captured version of his body to produce a perfect computerised likeness.
The team went so far as to create a digital model of the dentin on the inside of Smith’s teeth.
Having shot his scenes as Henry on a real-world set, Smith would then move to a motion capture stage to get Junior’s side of the story.
During these scenes, Smith would wear a head-capture rig equipped with two small cameras which captured his facial expressions in minute detail,” reported inews.
Admittedly, there were several moments where the special effects don’t hold up but Ang Lee definitely deserves a round of applause.
While we were in awe of the action-packed sequences and special effects that de-aged Will Smith back to his Fresh Prince years, the storyline was a little on the mediocre side. At times it felt a little stale. While cutting edge technology kept the audiences engaged, the storyline itself could use a little more life and emotions and perhaps, romance?
Gemini Man is out in theatres in Malaysia on Oct 10 and elsewhere, Oct 11.