Ang Lee refuses to be pigeonholed. From period romances to VFX-heavy survival stories, cowboy romances to comic books, the director’s love of filmmaking isn’t limited by genre. The only thing he’s done twice is win an Oscar. A new Ang Lee movie is always an event, in part because you never know what you’re going to get, and because of the risks he’s willing to take to advance the art form.
His last film, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” was a critical and commercial misfire, but it broke new ground by being the first feature film shot in 120 frames per second. It brought a level of realism rarely seen in film, and the director is returning to the high frame rate for his latest movie, “Gemini Man.”
The science fiction thriller stars Will Smith as an assassin forced to take on a clone of his younger self, one who can anticipate his every move. Continuing a strong 2019 that began with “Aladdin,” Smith is playing both roles. The production team went to painstaking efforts to create a young version of the actor, but Lee remains adamant that the film is not an example of de-aging.
The director has gone on record saying, “We are not de-aging. I rather think that we are creating a new character, a youthful Will Smith.” The choice to attempt bold special effects in 120fps is certainly a bold one. The technique results in footage that is so clear, actors cannot even wear makeup. Will Smith’s clone, then, had to be realistic enough to pass muster in real life.
If this kind of big-budget, star-driven original blockbuster seems like a remnant from another era, that’s because it is. The film was being developed at Disney in the late ’90s, with a murderer’s row of Hollywood stars attached to Smith’s role over the years. The script has undergone quite a few rewrites, including one from “Game of Thrones” creator David Benioff. Twenty years later, it found its way to Paramount, where it will help anchor the studio’s fall slate.
“Gemini Man” also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen. Paramount Pictures is releasing the film nationwide on October 11. The second trailer can be watched below.