Will Smith actually plays his age, 51, in director Ang Lee’s action thriller “Gemini Man,” but given the level of CGI and stunt double agility exhibited by his character, you’re probably supposed to think, “Dang, he looks pretty good for an old guy.” But, that’s part of the plot.
Lee’s film tries very hard to pose a mystery in the first half of this movie, during which a seasoned — read soon-to-be over-the-hill — covert operative-slash-government assassin named Henry Brogan (Smith) wants desperately to retire but can’t because there’s always one last high-stakes mission.
Then, from out of the blue, he discovers he is being hunted by a young man who looks like he’s wearing a “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” masked version of himself.
Why, you may ask? Well, that’s the mystery, though it’s not at all hard to figure out since any filmgoer who’s seen modern movies over the past 20 years or so knows that when a studio throws a bunch of money at computer imaging artists to make a guy look like a younger version of himself, a pretty good-sized plot point is probably the reason.
That, and the trailers pretty much give it all away.
When we first meet Henry, he’s working as a sniper, hired to take out a passenger from a moving train from a nearby hilltop with one shot. That alone should tell you Lee isn’t exactly sticking to a general sense of reality and that a kind of cartoonish quality will be the watchword. Henry, of course, is ridiculously successful, but the guy he just whacked figures in a grand scheme involving a shady Black Ops project to use cloning to create super-soldiers headed by an old colleague of Henry’s named Clay Verris (Clive Owen).
Soon after, Henry finds out that the man he killed was not the terrorist he thought he was. He also finds out a charming boat rental manager named Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) near the place he planned to retire is actually a covert agent assigned to surveil him. In circumstances too ridiculous to recount here, Henry recruits Danny and another pal, named Baron (Benedict Wong), to help him find out why everybody suddenly wants him dead, especially that guy who looks like the Fresh Prince.
Props have to be given to Smith for taking on a film role that allows him to play two versions of his character (maybe even three). Of this, he’s not bad, providing the kind of insightful drama for which Lee is known. Winstead is given a chance to show she can make flying kicks and gut punches with the best, but there is a suspicion she is more than she seems that is never followed up. Instead, she becomes a standard female buddy, minus any overt romance.
This movie languished in development hell for nearly 20 years, according to media reports, and having leads such as Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Sean Connery attached before it was finally approved with Ang Lee directing and Will Smith starring. Reportedly, part of the reason was that the technology didn’t exist until now for the effects that were needed. Owing to the obviousness of the main effect, they probably could have saved their money by shelving it for another few years.
Tempo grade: C-
“Gemini Man” is rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language..
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com .
Also showing in Taos.
The Addams Family
MPAA rating: PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action.
Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theaters
In this computer-animated comedy from directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, members of the mysterious and spooky Addams family — Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Wednesday (Chlöe Grace Moretz), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and Grandma (Bette Midler) — are readily preparing for a visit from their even creepier relatives.
But trouble soon arises when shady TV personality Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) realizes that the Addams' eerie hilltop mansion is standing in the way of her dream to sell all the houses in the neighborhood.
Additional voice cast includes Snoop Dogg, Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
MPAA rating: PG -13 for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action.
Taos Community Auditorium
This modern Mark Twain style adventure story, written and directed by Tyler Wilson and Michael Schwartz, tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).
A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak's unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak's return, to join them on their journey.
Additional cast includes John Hawkes, Bruce Dern and Jon Bernthal.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 13) and 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Oct. 14-16) at the Taos Cmmunity Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.