Gemini Man: The Future of B-Movie Action

Ang Lee pushes the genre forward with his innovative cinematography

Visionary director Ang Lee shot Gemini Man digitally in 3-D at 120 frames per second, whereas regular films are shot and projected at 24 frames per second. This means that the movie takes place in hyperreality. Any cinematic barrier to what’s on screen has wholly given way, and you are now inside a nineties-style action film starring Will Smith that is more real than reality. It’s as if your comprehension of the movie were being written by Haruki Murakami — your reality increasingly supplanted by something operating beyond it, that inexplicably makes absolutely complete sense. You find yourself occupying the film’s aesthetic space, possessed of its own logic, flow, tactility, and coalescence that you automatically accept, as upon first entering a dream. You are inside the film, experiencing it alongside Will Smith and Clive Owen as if you are there with them, looking on from underneath Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, in total acquiescence to the narrative unfurling around you. At times the experience resembles being placed in the same ultra-advanced virtual reality as Will Smith as he undergoes a Total Recall style simulation, acting out a rhythmic genre exercise.

Lee is pushing forward the visual language of film, leaping experimentally towards what genuinely feels like a new medium. This leap happens to consist of spending two hours present inside a genuinely standard nineties action movie, with a script that thoroughly exhibits its 1997 vintage. Will Smith, comfortably and thoughtfully weary in the wielding of his indomitable star power, plays an aging hitman haunted by his past and hunted by a clone of his younger self (Smith de-aged, audaciously and with varying degrees of uncanniness, to his Fresh Prince years). The cast and locations are kept agreeably, if noticeably, bounded while the action — dynamic, uniquely immersive, and fluidly maintaining a striking level of detail — is executed with a clear virtuosity. Lee has dedicated the cutting edge of filmmaking to letting you inhabit the most tangible B-movie ever made.


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