Will Smith is returning to the big screen in a big way this year, first with his already-polarizing casting as the Genie in Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” and then as the star of Ang Lee’s science-fiction thriller “Gemini Man.” The latter is one of Paramount Picture’s fall tentpole releases and co-stars Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, and Linda Emond. “Gemini Man” brings Lee back to major VFX filmmaking after “Life of Pi,” which won him the Best Director Oscar.
The concept for “Gemini Man” sounds almost like a riff on Rian Johnson’s “Looper,” as it centers around an aging assassin named Henry Brogen (Will Smith) who must evade being killed by his younger clone who knows his every move. Smith is starring in both roles, with de-aging VFX technology being used to make the actor look decades younger. The film is the latest movie in 2019 to use such technology after “Captain Marvel,” which de-aged Samuel L. Jackson so he could play MCU character Nick Fury in the 1990s. Martin Scorsese is using similar VFX on “The Irishman” to de-age Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
In addition to the de-aging technology, Lee also shot “Gemini Man” in 3D at 120 frames per second and 4k resolution. The filmmaker did the same thing with his previous movie, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” but the gamble of shooting at five times the normal frame rate (24fps) did not pay off as critics largely complained the footage was hyper-real and looked like a video game. Lee is committed to making 120fps work, but it’s up in the air how many theaters will be able to exhibit the film in its preferred format. Paramount will be releasing “Gemini Man” at normal frame rates as well.
At CinemaCon earlier this month, Paramount wowed the press with footage of Smith de-aged. The clone in the film is made to look like a 23-year-old version of the actor. Critics reacted positively to the footage, with many calling the VFX work “stunning” and “eye-popping.” For Lee, “Gemini Man” is a chance to make a comeback after the box office bomb of “Billy Lynn.”
Paramount Pictures will release “Gemini Man” in theaters nationwide October 11. Watch the first official trailer below.